New coach gets his opportunity

After spending time as an assistant under four coaches, Bray takes over reins of Bearcats May 29, 2008 

Eight years have passed since Abbott “Abby” Bray walked the sidelines on Friday nights during Brookland-Cayce High games, and 33 years have passed since he suited up for his former team.But as a wise man once said, if life is mostly attitude and timing, then both were right.

“The opportunity presented itself,” said Bray, the new football coach at Brookland-Cayce. “I wanted to be a head coach. I’d done the assistant thing and had been a coordinator, and I wanted to try it my way. I felt like it was time for it.”

Bray takes over the reins as coach and athletics director from Brad Coleman, who resigned in November, effective July 1. Bray has been a teacher at Brookland-Cayce for 19 years and was an assistant under four coaches before Coleman has hired for the dual post in 2000.

Coleman was popular in both jobs but went 4-7 in 2006 and winless in ‘07.Coleman’s arrival coincided with Bray’s departure from the coaching staff.

“A new, young crowd (of coaches) came in, and, at the same time, I had a son who was in the 10th grade on the varsity, playing quarterback.

“I just decided it was time for me to step back a little and watch him, get away from it to see what was going on. I just never got back (to coaching).”

The Bearcats wrapped up spring practice last week.

Kenyatta Castleberry, who started at quarterback last year, said the transition has gone smoothly.

“Everybody’s learning quick, and everybody’s taken a huge step forward,” Castleberry said. “(Bray’s) coaching strategy is nice, too. Everybody gets more reps, and everybody keeps their head in the game.”

The atmosphere, Castleberry said, is positive.

“Everybody pays attention, and he’s big on respect and eye contact,” Castleberry said. “He thinks if you’re looking at him, you’re paying attention. He’s real old-school.”

When Bray’s hiring was announced, the third-generation Bearcat felt as if he were coming home to a place he never left.

“I really didn’t want to go anywhere else,” he said. “I could have gone somewhere else to a smaller school and been a head coach in a couple of years, but I grew up a block from the school. My father graduated from B-C in 1952. It’s in my blood.”

Now, Bray said, he has a football team to build. The task is enough to keep him occupied most of his waking hours.

Bray and his staff are close to nailing down the X’s and O’s, such as who will be starting. He has gained ground in a more important area.

“We’re going to try to do things the right way,” Bray said. “We’re talking about becoming young men, doing the things you’re supposed to do and having good behavior in the classroom.

“I challenged them not just to be the best football team they can be, but to be the best young men they can be.”

Reach McLaurin at (803) 240-3514.

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