Glenn Gray started coaching in 1979 and got his own team the following year (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Glenn Gray became a Little League coach when his then eight-year-old son’s coach left midseason. By the next season, Gray became coach of his own Little League team and 43 years later, he and his team are still going strong.

What kept Gray coaching throughout the years was knowing he was doing something positive that he enjoyed, referring to himself as “the biggest kid in the bunch” when he is with this team.

“It was like I was giving something,” Gray said. “I could see the need of certain situations, a lot of kids, maybe they was in a broken home … I would always listen to the kids.”

His Little League baseball team at Holly Park went on an undefeated run for the past two seasons. They recently won the District 37 Tournament of Champions. Gray remarked on the challenges the team faced during the matchup.

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“We won by one point, the final score was 5-4,” Gray said. “But we were determined from the time the game started until it was over.”

Little League coaches can draft their players; Gray made sure to always have players of different ages so an uneven amount of players will not age out of his team at once.

“You see them playing at lower level and you notice them and you pick up on their techniques of how they do things,” Gray said. “I have been pretty good at that.”

He always teaches his team “it’s not about me, it’s about we,” using teamwork as a mechanism to build life skills.

Gray’s Little League team at Holly Park in Hawthorne won the 2023 California Major League District 37 TOC Championship (Courtesy of Gianna Gray)

Some of his players grew up to have their kids be coached by him. Some have come back to help coach Gray’s team.

“Some of them was kind of a knucklehead when they was on the team,” Gray said. “They come back to help and they’ll be so tough on the other kids. I’d say “that’s a flashback.””

Gray lost his wife while his kids were young and balanced being a father while coaching. He noted how doing both was not an arduous task.

“It came easy because you’re doing something that you like doing,” he said. “You enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not like a responsibility and every day is a good day.”

After the 2023-2024 season, Gray plans to return to his native state Alabama to create a youth academy.

“I want to go back there and help the kids,” Gray said. “My returning kids for next year, I’m gonna see them through and then I’m turning the team over to another person I already know.”

Gray likes baseball because of how the challenges the sport provides can help youth in their overall development.

“The competition of the kids doing it and seeing them improve and face challenges,” Gray said. “Life is about challenges and when they go through the challenges and the mission and when they all come together, working as one unit, that’s nice.”