The Lakers’ captain suffered a serious concussion during a game against Orchard View back on Sept. 9, and didn’t expect to see the field again.
But on Tuesday, he received a pleasant surprise as his doctor cleared him to play, and on Wednesday, he laced up his cleats and joined his teammates on the turf at Plainwell High School.
“It was surprising,” Gray said. “I didn’t think I’d play the rest of the season. But when the doctor said yes, I was ready to go. I’ve been waiting to play for a long time.”
The play that nearly ended his prep career came when he went for a diving header. The Orchard View goalie also dove for the ball, attempting to punch it out of trouble, and instead caught Gray in the side of the head.
“I knew it was bad,” he said. “I couldn’t remember what happened.”
The injury forced Gray to change the way he contributed to the team. Instead of making his mark on the field, he tried to provide leadership and coaching to the young Lakers’ squad, which starts just three seniors.
“You just have to find different ways to help your team,” he said. “You just do whatever you can do.”
Gray came off the bench midway through the first half, and said he wasn’t nervous or tentative to return to action.
“I was a little bit rusty, but it all came back,” he said.
Now, thanks to Wednesday’s victory, he has a chance to play one more game, and hopefully win a state championship in the process.