Hometown star helps lead Tide

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Marion R Walding

CW Staff

The Alabama women’s swimming and diving team will resume competition Feb. 17 in Athens, Ga., for the SEC Championship.

One star performer who will be competing for the Tide is junior Kate Shannon Gray. Born July 14, 1989, in Northport, Gray is the only team member from the city. Head coach Eric McIlguham says that benefits Gray.

“She is definitely familiar with the area,” McIlguham said. “She can also go home and get a home-cooked meal.”

Gray’s parents, Alan and Shannon Gray, both attended the University. Her father was a quarterback under Coach Bear Bryant from 1977-1981. He was a part of Alabama’s national championship teams in 1978 and 1979.

McIlguham said Gray is a strong leader on the swim team.

“She is one of the better athletes on the team,” he said. “She’s a hard worker and she is a leader.”

He also said she is great when interacting with teammates and her work does not stop inside the pool.

“Kids look up to her,” he said. “She shows dedication in and out of the pool, and she is also a great student.”

Gray said her role on the team is just part of what comes with her position as a collegiate swimmer.

“I just want to put in a good day’s work,” she said. “I want to work hard and perform well at dual meets and conference.”

Even though swimming and diving could be considered an individual sport, she said she finds a way to focus on the team.

“I want to get the team’s rankings up,” she said. “I also want to make it to the NCAAs, we all do.”

Instead of defining herself as a leader, she said she does whatever the team needs her to do.

“I try my best to be a leader,” she said. “I want to be a leader and a friend. I show that by working hard at practice and swim meets.”

She does not mind supporting others when she is not leading.

“I am good at supporting,” she said. “I support the team because I know I need support from them.”

Gray is a decorated athlete who was highly recruited out of Tuscaloosa County High School and has not slowed down her production in college. She has won multiple awards for performance and sportsmanship, including the 2006-07 Don Gambril Achievement Award for Excellence and the Katie Williams Most Dedicated award.

Now with a business major, she was a part of multiple honor societies, including Beta Club and Mu Alpha Theta. She has earned a spot on the President’s List, requiring a 4.0 grade point average, and the Dean’s List, requiring a 3.5 grade point average.

Gray said her expectations are high for the upcoming conference championships.

“I want to make the top eight,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to win it all, but improvement would be a huge success also.”