He’s been playing hockey since he was 3, and now he’s playing for the American Street Hockey Institute United States National Team.
David Gray didn’t waste any time in getting started.
Gray was about 3 years old when he got the itch to play hockey. But since he wasn’t old enough to round up some friends to go outside and take some shots, and he didn’t even have any equipment, he went to the only rink he knew and used whatever household items he could find.
And that’s when he got the hockey bug.
“He would go around the house when he was 3 and he would use fruit and a broom and play hockey,” said Gray’s father, Marc.
“He just loved it. After he did it for a while we figured we should buy him (a stick and ball). He loved it right when he first started playing and ever since, he’s just loved it.”
It helps that he is pretty darn good at it, too.
Gray grew up in Torresdale, and started playing foot hockey in Holmesburg. He also tried ice hockey, which he plays in high school at William Tennent, where he is a sophomore and guided his team to the playoffs.
Because he plays both foot and ice hockey, he really doesn’t have an offseason. One season goes right into the next.
Since the sports have a lot of similar skill sets, playing one helps him improve in the other.
“I like foot hockey better because you can do more things,” said Gray, who recently scored five goals to get his Torresdale team into the league championship game. “My favorite part is scoring. I like to do everything, I love playing, but scoring is my favorite part of the game. Assists are good, too.”
Gray’s scoring has taken him to many big games in many different leagues. And, recently, he was selected to play for the American Street Hockey Institute United States National Team in the tournament held this summer in Prerov, Czech Republic. The tournament will start at the end of June and finishes up in early July.
The Gray boys will head over there in hopes of bringing home the gold.
But it’s also a chance for Gray, who was selected to play in the tournament last summer, to show the world how he measures up against the best foot hockey players in the world.
“It was pretty great, he missed most of the tryouts, but he was at the last one and he ended up getting picked,” his father said.
“It’s pretty great, he must have played very well there. And we were happy because it’s a great opportunity. Just the chance to put the Team USA jersey on is a great opportunity. We’re both looking forward to it.”
“A lot of people say ‘foot hockey?’ ” Gray said. “But when you tell them it’s a big deal, they start to understand. I played football before, too, so I’ve played a lot of sports, but foot hockey is my favorite and I’m really happy I’m getting a chance to play for Team USA. It’s just cool to know you’re playing for a great team.”
Gray hopes to use his experience to help others in the future.
Since he’s been playing so much at Torresdale and in Holmesburg, Gray is very recognizable to the youngsters who participate in sports around there.
Gray always makes time to share his experiences with the younger players, and when they need a tip, he’s always willing to lend a hand.
Making Team USA will only give him more credibility and it’s just another reason for the players to look up to him.
“I’m really proud of the way he helps the other kids,” said his dad, who graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School. “They see him doing great things out there, he’s really good, so they always look up to him. And he loves it. He’s always trying to help someone.”
“I think I would like coaching some day,” Gray said. “I like to help them and I learn by doing it.”
And while Gray is quick to help, he’s been lucky enough to get help from the leagues he plays in.
When he goes to the Czech Republic, he’s not just representing his country, he’s representing his neighborhoods and leagues.
“He wouldn’t be going there without the Frenzy Hockey League, Torresdale and Holmesburg,” his father said.
“He’s played in some great leagues. They’ve done a lot for him. He loves playing with those guys. They gave him a chance to go to nationals. I’m really proud of him.”