Furr High School Head Football Coach Cornell Gray celebrated his 100th victory after the Brahmans defeated Kashmere High School 52-10 on Nov. 4, 2022, making him the first coach in school history to achieve this great milestone.
No stranger to the Houston community, Gray graduated from Furr High School in 1993 and attended Texas Southern University on a full ride baseball scholarship.
Gray began coaching at Furr High School in 1999 as an assistant football coach before becoming head coach in 2003.
As of today, he is the longest tenured head football coach in HISD.
“Coach Gray is invested in the Furr High School community and that’s the most important part,” said HISD Athletics Director Andre’ Walker. “When you have someone who is invested in the community, that makes them a stronger leader and people trust them, so it makes me feel really good to have someone like him on Team HISD.”
HISD Strategic Communications Specialist Travion Harmon sat down with Gray for an exclusive interview to learn more about him and his coaching career in HISD.
Q: Hello Coach, what is your earliest childhood memory with football?
A: To be honest with you, it started in ninth grade. My dad didn’t let me play little league football, but I played in the streets as a kid. It wasn’t official until the ninth grade at Furr High School.
Q: If you can recall, did anyone inspire you as a child to become a football coach?
A: You know, I wanted to play every sport including football, baseball, and basketball. My uncle was a big influence. He graduated from Kashmere High School and played at Texas A&M. He also played professionally. His name was Tim Gray.
Q: What was your first year of being head football coach like?
A: First year as head coach was 2003. I’ll just call it a learning experience. We went 0-10 but, I kept the kids around and we developed the program from there.
Q: What do you love most about coaching football?
A: The kids, no doubt! You know, just being around them and watching them grow. You meet a kid that’s never played football before a day in his life and now he’s going to Rice University on a football scholarship, so it’s all about being around the kids and their growth.
Q: What is your most memorable moment as head football coach?
A: *chuckles* It would definitely be my first win. We defeated Thrall High School, a small town out of Austin, Texas. It was a great moment! The kids were excited, and we did it for each other as a group. They came in as freshmen and were a part of the 0-10 team, but nobody quit on me. We worked hard throughout the off season and came back the next year trying to improve ourselves and got the dub the first game of the season.
Q: How does it feel to have won 100 football games in HISD?
A: Someone had to tell me that it was my 100th victory. When they told me I was like, okay that’s pretty good. At one point, Furr High School wasn’t very relevant to football, so just to see the work that I’ve put in feels good.
Q: With an impressive resume like yours, I imagine you’ve probably received offers from other Texas school districts. Why HISD?
A: I am HISD! That’s why I stay here, and that’s just it. There’s no other reason why.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals you MUST complete before taking the field?
A: *chuckles* I must take like a 20-minute nap before every game. I have to get that in to make sure everyone is away from me to get focused, and I’ve been doing that for about 15 years.
Q: What’s kept you motivated throughout the years to keep coaching?
A: I love Furr High School and the community. Just the idea of watching the next kid come through that I might’ve coached his brother or went to school with their dad. I love my school, so that keeps me motivated.
Q: What advice would you offer to someone who is aspiring to become a head football coach one day?
A: Trust the process and be patient. Try to soak up as much knowledge as you can from other coaches you meet. Attend as many camps as possible and keep an open mind to help you grow.
Q: What’s next for Coach Gray and Furr High School?
A: We gone keep it pushing! We’re going to try and get to the next level as far as the football program and all other sports. We’re just trying to keep it moving. We’re going to try to keep the kids eligible, keep them grinding, and make sure that they’re doing the best that they can do to become the best athletes possible.