Baseball player home from Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Baseball player home from Iraq

January 24, 2005

Thomasville- Thomas University is kicking-off baseball season this week with some new faces, and some veteran players. One of them stands out though.

He played ball for TU in 2001. But he left to pursue what he calls a life-fulfilling mission. The sound of a baseball hitting a glove is the sound of accomplishment for Thomas University pitcher and catcher Nick Gray. "The team's been great. They've taken me in like I was 21, or a guy right out of high school.", he says.

Gray was in fact fresh out of high school when he signed up with TU. But he left in 2001 for what he says was a bigger calling. "I missed my fiance, my daughter. It was real tough.", he says. He was on a mission, quite literally. It was one that took him to a new world. "As soon as I stepped off the plane I didn't feel I belonged here."

In 2001 Gray was a third team All-American. That's when he left to be an All-American soldier in Iraq. Coach Mike Lee says Gray batted .420 in 2001 and hit 15 home runs. He was an asset to the country. And once again, he's an asset to TU.

"We pulled security on Brown and Root vehicles, making sure they got from point a to point b safely.", he says. Gray was in charge of security in a very unsecured country, seeing things he wouldn't wish upon anyone. "The UN bombing was tough. All the casualties we had. We were the first ones on scene."

Now Gray is back with his family, and back with Thomas University. "My dream would be to coach baseball. That's what Id love to do." And that's a dream that's within his reach. Coach Mike Lee says Gray has an assistant coaching spot waiting for him at TU when he graduates this year.

Posted at 7:31 PM by stephen.ryan@walb.com

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