Vicksburg’s Grey announces resignation

Published 11:30 am Friday, June 6, 2014

Vicksburg High baseball coach Ryan Grey signals for a pitching change during a game against Warren Central this season. Grey is leaving VHS after three seasons as its head coach. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Vicksburg High baseball coach Ryan Grey signals for a pitching change during a game against Warren Central this season. Grey is leaving VHS after three seasons as its head coach. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Ryan Grey has known for a long time, perhaps from the day he started, that coaching would not be a lifelong profession for him.

The time to leave did come a bit sooner than he expected, however.

Grey Vicksburg High’s baseball coach, turned in his letter of resignation at the end of the school year. He’s switching careers, going into his family’s plumbing business after five years as a teacher and coach at VHS.

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“It’s one of those opportunities to get back in. You don’t know how many more there are going to be,” Grey said. “I’ve worked there every summer since I was 14. It was always on the radar. I figured the opportunity would present itself in the future, but I didn’t think it would come this early.”

Also contributing to Grey’s decision was his desire to be a father. He was married earlier this year, and said the long hours needed to be a successful coach don’t always mix with having a young family.

“We’re going to try to start a family, and as a high school baseball coach it’s hard on your wife and children,” he said. “You’re going from January to May, 15, 16 hours a day.”

Grey graduated from Vicksburg High in 2002, where he was a catcher for the school’s baseball team. After earning his degree in education from Mississippi State, he returned to VHS as an assistant baseball coach in 2010.

Grey took over as the head coach in 2012 and led the Gators to a 38-49 record in three seasons at the helm. His teams made the playoffs all three years, but lost in the first round each time -— twice in three-game series.

“I feel like in three years there, we made strides. By the end of last year we were a tough group to deal with and just came up a few feet short in the first round,” Grey said.

This season, Vicksburg went 13-18 and lost in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs to Saltillo. The series went three games, with the Gators losing 6-5 in eight innings in Game 3. The tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the series.

“The group of players I had were great kids. They did everything I asked of them,” Grey said.

Interviews were conducted this week to find Grey’s replacement. His successor will inherit a program with a track record of success — it has made the playoffs four straight seasons and was in the Class 4A championship series in 2008 — but in need of some rebuilding.

John Plummer, Jekori Reed and Michael Rohrer, the team’s top three hitters and two of its best pitchers, all graduated this spring.

Grey said he feels, however, that he’s leaving the program in a good place. Despite their losing record, the Gators were competitive this season. Improvements to the team’s Showers Field practice field are also continuing, and have given it a place to call its own as it continues to play home games at Bazinsky Field.

“There’s a really good group of guys, some really talented guys, coming up,” Grey said. “The renovations at Showers Field are night and day from where they were three or four years ago. Whoever gets the job next will have a solid base to build from.”

While Grey has etched a place in Vicksburg High’s baseball history, he was quick to say he had no interest in being part of its future as anything more than a fan.

“I doubt I’ll coach back at the high school level,” Grey said. “I wouldn’t mind taking a little league team and building those guys up.”

Grey added, however, that he will be a familiar face at games as he watches his former players finish their high school careers and rise through the ranks to form the next generation of Gators.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’m going to miss the kids and the guys, and the faculty at Vicksburg High School,” he said. “The good thing is, I’m not gone from Vicksburg. I’ll get two watch these seniors finish, and these seventh-graders grow. I’ll still come to a lot of baseball games.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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