Gray set to become new Red Wing AD
Bart Gray grew up in Pepin. But thanks to weekend trips, Red Wing always felt like home as well.
"Red Wing is kind of my home. When we went shopping on Saturdays, it was to Red Wing," Gray said. "For my wife and I both, we're coming home."
Gray will return to familiar territory after accepting the vacant activities director/student support specialist position at Red Wing High School last week. Red Wing High School principal Todd Herber announced Gray's hiring via e-mail on Monday.
"Bart has had a long career in the world of athletics," Herber said on Monday. "He has high school coaching experience and has been at the collegiate level both as a professor and AD with a couple of different colleges."
Pending School Board approval on July 17, Gray will replace John Miller, who was the activities director for one year before accepting the same position in Merrill, Wis.
"We actually interviewed Bart last year when we hired John Miller and we invited Bart back again," Herber said. "He made a favorable impression. He'll be with us for a while and be a steady hand for activities and athletics. He's great with building relationships with parents and the community. He's been at the college level so he has a skill in marketing programs, and it's appealing to market not only athletics but activities to promote the Winger brand."
This past school year, Gray was the Title IX coordinator at Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa. He previously served as the school's director of athletics from 2013-16, and also had stints as an AD at Wisconsin-Marathon County, McPherson College (Kan.) and Peru State College (Neb.). He also has college head coaching experience in both track and cross-country at Dakota State (S.D.), McPherson College, Lindenwood University (Mo.), Minnesota State-Mankato and Hastings College (Neb.).
But, Gray has long been looking to return to high school. While he was AD at Wisconsin-Marathon County, Gray's last high school coaching experience was as an assistant track coach at Wausau West High School.
"A couple years ago, I got a principal's license in an effort to get back into the secondary education level," Gray said. "I was a high school coach and teacher a while ago and those were some of the best times I've ever had. It'll be nice to shift gears again and look at being able to contribute to activities and athletics."
Gray continued, "One of the things I was most appreciative of when I was coaching in college was if I ended up with a good high-school athlete, it's because a coach did a good job down the line. There's not enough credit given to jobs in education and coaching. ... In the classroom, you see a lot of students that are extremely well-prepared because they had great teachers in high school."
A key phrase Gray remembers from a mentor is, "The big time is where you're at." The odds are slim for a high-school athlete to compete in college. So, Gray's goal is to help students get the most out of their respective extracurricular experience.
"No matter what level you're at, your main focus is helping students realize their dream," Gray said. "In my position as athletic director, I always thought of it as a service position. Whether it's athletics or extracurricular activities, fine arts, band, drama, all those students have a need to fulfill and that's what driven me over the years."
As soon as he's approved by the School Board, Gray wants to hit the ground running. He already met with Miller to learn the ropes. The third AD in three years at RWHS, Gray hopes his return home will bring some stability for the Wingers.
"I'm just hoping my years of experience have gotten me prepared for this job," Gray said. "There's some great things we can do. One of my biggest concerns right now is consistency. The football program has struggled with consistency and activities have had a lot of turnaround. It's hard to build strong programs when there are things changing. What we need here in Red Wing is consistency and people who are going to be here and be toward a common goal."