Orlando Gray, Oakland High School girls basketball head coach, has won California Coach of the Year from both CalHi Sports and MaxPreps.
“It was pretty special to be honored that way. I don’t know if that has ever happened for us here in the Oakland Athletic League (OAL). I’m very excited to represent the OAL and Oakland High in that manner.“ said Coach Gray.
Gray led his team to a 30-5 season, capped off by a 51-35 victory in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division III Championship over McFarland High School from near Bakersfield.
It was the first ever championship for Oakland High. “In its 150-year history, it’s surprising that the school had never won. It is humbling to be part of this legacy,“ said Gray.
As a former assistant coach at Oakland Tech when his daughter Alexis helped lead the team to two straight state championships in 2004 and 2005, Gray was thrilled that Oakland Tech won this year’s CIF Division IV Championship and could share the spotlight with Oakland High.
“It meant a lot, working at Tech and being a coach there, and being part of a winning tradition. It was really special,” he said.
Gray also received Coach of the Year honors from the Oakland Athletic League (OAL). “He’s been an exemplary coach for countless years and has grown and strengthened the girls basketball program at Oakland High School,” said OAL Commissioner Sonjha Phillips.
“Not only does he care about wins and losses, but he also cares deeply about his players’ academic success. He deserves all the accolades he’s receiving,” said Phillips.
Gray says Oakland often gets a bad rap. But, he says, all the success the city has seen recently, especially in high school sports, shows that the city is doing big things. “The nonsense that people say, ‘(Oakland) is not that good because we exist in our own league,’ it’s not true. In all sports, we are good, and we’ve proven it time and time again. We played everybody who wanted to play us, and we won,“ said Gray.