The Devils are delighted to announce their new Senior Team Defensive Coordinator and Linebacker Coach, Sean Gray, for the 2017 season.
Coach Gray (Pictured left shaking hand with Head Coach Chris Mills) is an excellent addition to the coaching team having played and coached at the highest level within the British Game for nearly 30 years
Starting as a rookie tightend back in 1987, in the Duke Division of the Combined Gridiron league, at the Weymouth Warlords, Sean was awarded the most improved/ rookie award. Following short stints at the Bournemouth Bobcats and Peterborough Saints as both Outside Linebacker and Running Back he found himself at the North Sea Hurricanes playing as a Fullback and Defensive End. Where he again picked up the award for most improved player as well as 2 MVP awards.
After the Hurricanes folded in 1995 Sean moved on to the Cambridge Cats for 4 years during which he began to find the position which would dominate the remainder of his playing career, Middle Linebacker. Once again picking up awards, including 9 MVP’s at the Cats he also represented the South All stars for two years and dipped his toe into coaching by helping the Peterborough Centurions win the British Senior Flag Championship.
After the Cats folded Coach Gray moved on to the Ipswich Cardinals for a season where again he picked up an award before moving on to the London Mets for 3 seasons when he also represented Team England.
From 2003 – 2006 Sean played Middle Linebacker, at the highest possible level in the UK for the Personal Assurance Knights during what what was a time of great interest in the British game. British Championship winners in 2004 and runners up in 2005 the Knights also played 3 seasons in the EFAF (European Federation of American Football) Cup where they reaching the final in 2004. Describing this period of his playing career as his best, Coach Gray was selected for team GB but unfortunately had to pull out due to injury.
Subsequent injuries and many years of long driving to practice forced Sean to move closer to home and following a request from a former Coach to help his former club, he rejoined the reformed Cambridgeshire cats as a player coach. Where as a player, Defensive Coordinator and Deputy Head Coach he helped the Cats to gain promotion within two seasons and was nominated for BAFA Coach of the year in 2008 following a season in which the Cats defence held the lowest PA record and scored more TD’s than were scored against them.
It was at this time following a diagnosis of diabetes that Sean had to stop playing and move into coaching full time. And following a short stint as Defensive Coordinator and Deputy Head Coach at the Peterborough Saxons, where the Head Coach was a US Navel Commander who found himself away a lot. Sean returned as an Assistant Defensive Coordinator and Linebacker Coach at the now Farnham Knights for a season.
While also taking on the role as Defensive Coordinator for the Brunel Burners University team when the Head Coach job at the Milton Keynes Pathfinders came available Sean jumped at the chance to cut his teeth at the role. Helping the side to their first ever play off spot in his first year.
In 2013, after 3 years in Milton Keynes his former club the Farnham Knights again came calling following their season out of the league due to a lot of retirements. Sean proudly took on the role of head coach during their challenging return to the league season where, with a team of 80% rookies, he helped rebuild the spirit and brotherhood of his playing days at the club and brought back some wins, establishing the foundation for their now return to the highest level of the British game.
After a return to the Cambridge Cats for a season as Defensive Coordinator when travelling to practices in Farnham again took its toll. The birth of his son meant a step back from football for a short period and despite helping out at Sussex Thunder and the Peterborough Saxons his appointment at the Norwich Devils represents his full time return to the Game and we are very excited to have him here.
After Sean accepted the roles Head Coach Mills remarked,
” I’m excited at Sean joining our team & coaching staff. I wanted a hard hitting, high intensity defence & I’m certain Sean has the characteristics required to bring that out in the players. We’ve already seen a vast improvement in the defensive scheme and fundamental skills of the team, a true testament to his knowledge & experience. I can’t wait to see what they can do in a game.”
Following on from the appointment , the Devils are still looking for additional coaches to join the senior team coaching staff. Particularly Defensive Back and Quarterback coaches.
We welcome any experienced coaches moving from other programs or newcomers to the sport who maybe don’t fancy playing but would like to get involved. Our staff currently consists of ex-international players, fitness instructors and personal trainers… all mad about football! To coach American football in the UK you must be over 18 and hold a minimum of a BAFA Level 1 coaches certificate. Those who are new to the sport need not worry as we can arrange to have you placed on a course as soon as possible and get you on your way.
Currently our Senior team practices on Sunday afternoons. If you’d like to become a coach at the Devils please contact Head Coach Chris Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org