ENTERPRISE — When Lynn Gray left her adult-league softball practice years ago, she knew something didn’t feel quite right.
Gray played multiple sports in high school and continued to do so following graduation through adult leagues, so the sudden loss of energy and the general feeling of fatigue that day caught her off guard.
She returned home from practice and purchased a pregnancy test kit, and not long after, discovered the source of her sudden tiredness.
“The day that I found out that I was pregnant with Shawanda, I had just come from softball practice,” she recalled. “We were getting ready to go to Wisconsin to play softball that year, and I found out I was pregnant with her. That put an end to that.”
Friday morning, Enterprise two-sport star Shawanda Gray signed with Holmes Community College, where she’ll play both softball and basketball. She becomes Enterprise’s first student-athlete to receive scholarships in two sports.
The senior sat behind a table decorated with her Enterprise softball and basketball jerseys, two porcelain bulldogs and a number of other sports-related equipment. Lynn Gray and Winston Gray — Shawanda Gray’s father — joined their daughter at the table, while her sister, Shaterria, and brother, Derryon, stood behind the trio with Enterprise coaches for pictures.
“I’ve worked so hard for this,” Shawanda Gray said. “It’s crazy how much I love this game and love my team and how they made me who I am. I’m not going to give up on them. I’m going to keep pursuing this until I can’t anymore.”
Gray has been a cornerstone for Enterprise’s softball and basketball programs for years. She’s a six-year softball starter, and she was inserted into a starting role on the Lady Bulldogs’ basketball team during her eighth-grade season.
Having watched Gray develop over the last six years, Enterprise softball coach Davey Dewitt confidently stated Holmes is adding more than just a talented athlete to its roster.
“They’re getting a leader,” Dewitt said. “They’re getting somebody who works hard and who is devoted 100 percent to whatever she does. They’re getting a really special athlete.”
While Gray’s enjoyed a number of successes at Enterprise, her prep career hasn’t been free from adversity. She’s had surgeries on both her left and right knees, but she’s always found her way back to the diamond and hardwood. Lady Bulldogs’ basketball coach Tim Reid said Gray’s resilience is as impressive as her athletic ability.
“She just willed her way through it,” Reid said. “She was determined not to let it destroy her, and to not let it get her. She came back even stronger, I think. She’s had a great year this year, and she had a great year last year…. That’s a tremendous accomplishment. She’s the best player I’ve coached since I’ve been here in the last eight years, and the best I’ve seen here. She had a couple setbacks with some injuries, but she’s been able to overcome that, which has been good for her development.”
Winston Gray is among his youngest daughter’s biggest supporters. He and Lynn Gray are fixtures at softball and basketball games. He said the youngster made her desire to excel in two sports vocal at an early age, and he’s grateful to see her dedication to her craft rewarded with the opportunity to play beyond high school.
“To me, it shows that parents who raise their children right, and who tell their children the truth about sports, can do anything through God and through family,” Winston Gray said.
Although Lynn Gray’s competitive softball-playing days ended when she learned of her pregnancy, Shawanda Gray appears to be carrying that torch. She credited her family’s positive involvement for all the accolades she's received.
“They mean the world to me,” Shawanda Gray said. “My dad pushes me, my sister, my mom, my brother, push me to be the best I can be. And that’s what I try to do.”