Tom Gray enters his seventh season as co-head coach at UIC, and his ninth season overall with the Flames.
Gray, who served as an assistant coach along side current co-head coach Sarah O'Malley Fisher in his first two years in the Windy City, has helped keep UIC's winning tradition alive during his tenure at the helm of the program.
Last season, sophomore Sarah Clynes became the seventh player in school history to earn Horizon League Co-Player of the Year honors. The designated player/pitcher also tabbed Horizon League First Team accolades after posting a career-high .391 batting average with 61 hits, 32 runs scored, 28 RBI and a team-leading five homers.
The Flames dominated throughout the season with an upset over No. 19 Georgia Tech early in the season, followed by a 12-inning victory over crosstown rival Loyola, which earned the team a spot in the 2007 Horizon League Tournament semifinals.
In 2006, the Flames claimed the Horizon League Regular-Season title and battled their way to the tournament title game. Clynes was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, while also earning second team and all-newcomer team honors as well.
In 2005, Cameron Astiazaran was named Horizon League Player of the Year and became the fifth UIC player to receive All-America accolades. Joyce Cathey and Sara Hernandez picked up first team honors and the Flames enjoyed their third conference regular-season title in four years with a 14-4 league record.
In 2004, UIC recorded its 11th 40-win season in the last 12 years, finishing with a record of 42-23. The Flames took home the Horizon League regular-season title with a 16-1 mark and then advanced to the NCAA Regional Championships by taking the Horizon League Tournament title on their home field.
UIC made plenty of noise at regionals in Ann Arbor, Mich., posting a trio of wins at the event. After an opening-round loss to #10 Tennessee, the Flames rebounded to eliminate Bowling Green, #25 Notre Dame and the Lady Vols, before dropping a 6-5 decision to #20 Oregon State in the semifinal round.
The Flames received numerous accolades for their efforts in 2004. UIC boasted the Horizon League Player of the Year (Amanda Rivera), Pitcher of the Year (Alison Aguilar) and Newcomer of the Year (Elizabeth Jacoby) while eight different players earned All-Horizon League recognition.
Gray and O'Malley-Fisher were honored as the Horizon League's Co-Coaches of the Year, marking the first time either had received the award.
On a nation level, Rivera, Aguilar and Cameron Astiazaran took home NFCA All-Region honors and Rivera became the fourth player in UIC softball history to garner NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America recognition.
The 2003 season was one of highs and lows for the Flames, but on a squad with five rookie starters and no seniors it provided plenty of hope for the future.
After a sluggish start to the season, UIC rallied in conference play to finish with an 11-7 mark in a competitive Horizon League race. At the league tournament, the Flames won their first game, but then suffered a pair of heart-breaking one-run losses, ending their string of five straight championships.
The campaign wasn't without its highlights and accolades, though, as UIC placed six athletes on the All-Horizon League squad while Amanda Rivera earned a spot on the NFCA All-Region squad for the third straight season.
The 2002 season proved to be all a rookie head coach could hope for, as armed with a senior loaded lineup the Flames hit their way to 42 wins, a league title, and an NCAA Regional bid.
During the regular season, UIC captured three non-conference tournament titles, taking home the crown at the Mizzou Round-Robin and snow-shortened Tulsa Holiday Inn-Select Festival, as well as the Bronze Bracket championship at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. In league competition, the Flames continued their winning ways, going 12-2 in the Horizon League to earn the tournament's top seed. At the championship, UIC flexed its offensive firepower, outscoring its opponents 37-3 while posting a team batting average of .465 en route to the tournament title.
That offensive output was nothing new for the Flames, though, as they ranked nationally for team batting average and home runs all season long. UIC also set a new school record for team home runs in 2002, belting 56 round-trippers in just 65 games.
The leader of the pack was Edel Leyden, who enjoyed a career year in 2002, batting .377 with 56 RBI and a school record 15 home runs. For her efforts, Leyden earned NFCA Third-Team All-American honors, becoming just the third UIC softball player to become an All-American.
In his first two years as an assistant under Mike McGovern, Gray helped coach the team to two conference tournament championships, one regular season conference championship, and two NCAA regional tournament appearances.
All in all at UIC, she has coached 12 All-Conference First Team players, 11 All-Great Lakes Region players, and four All-Americans.
Prior to UIC, as head coach at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, Calif., he lead his team to nine league championships, winning every season from 1990-98. During that span, Gray was named California Interscholastic Federation Coach of the Year three times, earning the honor in 1992, 1993 and 1996.
While at Crossroads, Gray also took on assistant coaching duties for the Orange County Batbusters, an ASA 18-and-under gold team. During his tenure with the Batbusters, he helped the team earn the reputation as one of the premier under-18 programs in the nation, winning the Gold National Championship in 1997 and finishing second in 1998.
Accompanying his impressive coaching resume, Gray has also established a sterling reputation as an educator. He taught at the high school level for 10 years and served as the assistant athletics director at Crossroads from 1992-93.
Gray received his Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education in 1986 from Cal State-Northridge. He is married, and he and his wife, Tammy, have five children.