Hilmar High's Miranda Gray signed her National Letter of Intent on Tuesday afternoon to continue her athletic career and pursue the sport of volleyball at Division-II Holy Names University.
This comes as a surprise to many because since Gray’s freshman year at Hilmar, she looked destined to be a collegiate athlete for softball, but wasn’t where her heart was at.
“I know it comes to many as a shock that I'm going to college for volleyball, but after my sophomore year in high school the roles just switched,” said Gray. “Volleyball started to become my number one and softball was my number two.”
Gray also mentioned that growing up she never really gave much attention to volleyball because softball is all she had known for so long.
“But when I was in high school and I started to learn the game of volleyball I just fell in love, and started putting all my effort there,” said Gray. “I think it had a lot to do with playing club volleyball. I played for a great organization [Pulse Volleyball club] out of Ripon and I had great teammates and coaches and it made me fall in love with the game.”
Those coaches, along with a handful of others including Kara Olesen (softball) at Hilmar convinced Gray to put herself out there knowing she possessed a unique athletic ability that could carry over into the college level.
“My softball coach Kara attended Holy Names and played softball and it was close to home and on my visit I fell in love. I felt like that's where I should be,” said Gray. “I wasn't really planning on playing so I didn't put myself out there to anyone else. If the Holy Names thing didn't work out I probably would of attended Sacramento State or Monterey.”
Gray was also a softball standout, having played varsity since her freshman year in 2014, however missed the 2015 season. At the conclusion of her freshman campaign, Gray was the team’s ace having made 17 total appearances while tossing 78 innings and picking up five wins with an ERA of 3.32.
So far, this season in softball, Gray has made five appearances and tossed 25 total innings, while striking out 18 and accumulating an ERA of 1.96.
“I never would of thought volleyball would be the sport I took to the next level,” said Gray. “Honestly, I didn't think I would be playing anything at the next level, but my coaches kept telling me to put myself out there, and I put a lot of work in and it paid off.
“Putting yourself out there and working hard can get you things you would never think you could have,” Gray continued. “I never thought I was going to be a collegiate athlete and I wouldn't be if it wasn't for my coaches and teammates and family reassuring me I'm good enough and helping me.”
Gray is coming off a fantastic season with her Yellowjacket volleyball team. Last season they reached their fourth consecutive Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game.
Gray has been part of the Yellowjackets consecutive streak as section runner-ups in the Division-IV bracket, having been on the roster for the last three of four Sac-Joaquin Section Championship appearances. During the last three seasons Hilmar varsity volleyball is 97-32.
“All the success and accolades with Hilmar volleyball added a lot of fuel for my desire to be a collegiate athlete,” said Gray. “I had great teammates and coaches and our team we had so much fun together and played for each other. There was never a game I was worried about stats or about myself.”
Gray was also selected as an All-League member of the Trans-Valley League after completing this past season.
She was a force for the 'Jackets after accumulating the most digs on the team by a landslide with 518. The second most was 261 by teammate Mariah Ahid.
“My family has definitely been my number one supporters. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them,” Gray added. “Hannah Pearce has pushed me so much. Patti Harris and Haylee Pearce made me dig deep and found talent I never thought I had and my Pulse coaches Tyler White, Mike Gomez, and Adrienne Beltrami.”
Gray hopes to major in biology or medical sciences.