Graduation ends Gray’s 13-year Heidelberg career
Published: June 6, 2012
When he accepts his diploma from Heidelberg High School at the city's Stadthalle on Friday night, Kevin Gray will complete a feat all-but-unprecedented for students in DODDS-Europe. Unlike everyone else in the hall with him, Gray will be winding up a 13-year run at Heidelberg DODDS schools.
And even though Gray, a strong student as well as an all-star athlete, arguably suffered in obtaining a football scholarship because of his location, he’ll be walking down the aisle with no regrets.
“I love the city of Heidelberg,” Gray said recently by telephone. “I like the experience I had over here. We visited all the major points – Rome, Prague, Berlin.”
Even so, Gray, who plans to walk on for the University of South Carolina football team this summer, added he might have prospered more from playing Stateside prep sports.
“I’d have been better off in sports," he admitted, "if I had been in the States.”
It’s a dilemma faced by many of Europe’s best athletes, who might benefit from considering Gray’s thoughtful conclusion about his problem.
“At the end of the day,” said Gray, selected for the DODDS-Europe all-star team after a senior season which saw the 5-11, 175-pounder complete 63-of-115 passes for 776 yards and eight touchdowns, “sports are just an extracurricular activity. Life experience is what’s important."
Not that Gray, also a basketball standout for the Lions, downplays the importance of sports in his life.
“Playing sports is a great way to meet people,” he said, adding that his athletic experiences were the highlight of his tenure in the Heidelberg schools. “Heidelberg has a great tradition. I’m glad I had a chance to contribute to it and to play for (basketball) Coach (Ron) Merriwether.”
After so many years in familiar surroundings, does Gray feel any trepidation about trying to follow in the footsteps of Oklahoma Sooners' running back Dominique Whaley, an All-European at Ansbach who successfully walked on at a Division I program?
"I'm a little anxious," he said, "but I love football. I'll play anywhere -- wherever they need me."