Women can make it too


Coach Gray pays close attention to the team as they practice new plays. She was observing to see what they needed to improve.

Kaila Ormerod

Jeanette Gray, Mathematics, has recently been inducted into the 2018 Women’s Football Hall of Fame. She is a math and Project Lead The Way teacher; she also coaches Football, Girls Track and Girls Basketball for Lake Central High School.

“The Women’s Football Hall of Fame not only honors the best athletes, but [honors] women that have been pioneers for the sport and have pushed forward the inclusion of women in the sport of football,” Gray said.

Gray was 28 years old and playing in a flag league for the South Side of Chicago with some friends when the owner of the Chicago team pulled her aside and asked her to try out.

“When I first started playing, I had no ambitions of being in the Hall of Fame. I just loved the sport and was just so thankful to have been given the opportunity to play. I thought it was just going to be a recreational activity when I started. Over the years it turned into almost another full time job,” Gray said.

Her involvement with the sport has lead her to have some amazing opportunities and has left the NFL amazed by her work.

“I got the chance to represent my country twice in the world games and just experience a lot of success. I’m humbled and I’m honored that they would think of me as somebody who is not only a good player, but [will] kind of push the game forward and created opportunities for other women to be involved. Last January, the NFL invited me to a forum with 44 other women. We got to listen [to] the opportunities and what careers at the NFL were like,” Gray said.

Not only does the NFL see her as a role model, but so do her own players. Amanda Shurbaji (12) is one of the female football players being coached by Gray.

“She’s an inspiration to me for being a female coach and even being my coach. Nothing is really stopping her, even with a lot of people thinking ‘You can’t do it’ and outside misconceptions of how it’s usually just guys on football teams, she’s still doing it. She’s proving herself that she can do it and she has been doing it,” Shurbaji said.

Being such a role model to younger girls, a good team player, and an overall amazing coach, the NFL officially inducted Coach Jeanette Gray into the 2018 Women’s Football Hall of Fame.

“My advice -just to young girls in general-, whether they are interested in football or not, is not to try something just because you are a girl. I think a lot of times stereotypes make us think that there’s things that we can’t do, and we’re still fighting that and probably will continue to fight that. It takes a lot of people, like the people that I’ve played with and have been around, to encourage those girls that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to try new things. If you fail, you fail. At least you tried. Just be proud of what you want to do,” Gray said.

Coach Gray inspects Noah Grimmer (10) as he runs a route during practice. He practiced with the Varsity team.
While some of the Varsity Football team is practicing a play, Coach Gray watches and inspected how well they were doing.
Coach Gray is looking at the plays they have written down. She took note of where they needed more practice.
Coach Gray pays close attention to the team as they practice new plays. She was observing to see what they needed to improve.
After talking to the whole group, Coach Gray spoke to Andrew Smith (12) individually. She ended their conversation with a ‘Keep it up’.
Coach Gray observes the players of the Varsity Team while they run routes. They had to practice the new ones for the upcoming games.
Gray blows a whistle telling the team the drill they were practicing is over. The were done and ready to start practicing the plays.
Coach Gray signals in offensive plays during their practice. She was helping them know how to keep the game going.