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James H. “Wooky” Gray photo
James H. “Wooky” Gray photo
James H. “Wooky” Gray
Hometown: Grenada, MS
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Coach James H. “Wooky” Gray was a national championship JUCO football coach at Mississippi Delta CC. Coach Gray was born in Grenada in 1938 and a star football player at Grenada who lost his pants while running onto the field and making the first tackle in a game against Greenwood. He picked up the nickname of “Wooky'' in the 9th grade because of a speech impediment when a coach called him “rookie” and Gray responded by saying “I ain’t no w-ookie, coach!”. He played offensive and defensive line at Millsaps under Coach Erm Smith and graduated from college in 1961 with a biology degree. He began his 33-year coaching career at West Tallahatchie as an assistant. He had coaching stops at Rosedale, Ole Miss, Mary Montgomery High in Mobile, AL, and at Livingston University before returning as head coach and athletic director at Leland. He paced the Leland gridiron team to 5 consecutive Delta Valley Conference crowns and a record of 45-4-2. Wooky worked at Southern Miss as volunteer assistant coach under Bobby Collins from 1975-78. He served as head coach at Mississippi Delta CC in Moorhead from 1978 to 1994 where his Trojans compiled a record of 91-63-4. His first MS Delta CC team won their first of three North Division crowns in 1978 with the other two titles in 1984 and 1993. He led the Trojans to their first state JUCO title in 1993 with an overtime win over Jones Junior College on November 13, 1993. His squad then captured the National JUCO Championship on December 4, 1993, with a 20-16 win over Nassau, NY CC at Pocatello, Idaho, completing a 12-0 season. He was named National JUCO Coach of the Year in 1993 and 190 of his Trojans received college scholarships with 13 players moving on to pro football. Coach Gray retired from MS Delta CC in 1994, but remained at the school as a department chairman and served as assistant to the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1995. He was selected MS JUCO Coach of the Year in 1988, 1991, and 1993, Delta Valley Coach of the Year in 1971 and 1974, and baseball coach of the year by the Alabama Collegiate Conference in 1967. He served as head coach in the 1986 and 1990 MS JUCO All-Star Football game and as assistant in the 1987 contest. Coached in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic in 1974 as an assistant and in 1975 as a head coach. Gray was famous for his educational talents as he taught chemistry, biology, and physical science. He was one of 6 science teachers in America honored by the National Science Foundation. He was a longtime member of MAC and National JUCO Athletic Association. Coach Gray passed away while fishing on Lake Washington on May 16, 1996, at the age of 57.