A senior vice president and director of corporate real estate at First Bank in Swansea, Jason Gray has spent much of his free time in the spring teaching young people the value of hard work, sportsmanship and team work.
The Swansea resident has enjoyed it. Now he’s being honored for it.
An Illinois High School Association track and field official for the past 15 years, Gray has been named the IHSA’s boys track and field official of the year for the 2017-18 school year.
“I’m not an educator by profession, but one of the things I enjoy most about being an IHSA official is being around young people — is helping them learn and the values I was taught in reference to sportsmanship, fair play, dedication and hard work. I believe that these are values for a lifetime,” Gray said. “I am very honored that my peers thought so highly of my work to nominate me for this honor. It means a great deal coming from the people you work with.”
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A native of Oak Lawn, the 49-year-old will be honored along with 19 other award winners at a July 21 banquet during the 2018 IHSA Officials Conference at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria.
To be considered for the honor, Gray had to be nominated by an officials association that is recognized by the Illinois High School Association. IHSA staff members then vote on the winners based on factors including character, skill as an official, and levels worked in the IHSA State Series.
Gray, who has also been an IHSA football official for the past 22 years, said he was notified about the honor last week.
“I really don’t know who nominated me. I received notice via email last week that I had earned this honor,” Gray said. “I had to turn in some paperwork, and the IHSA said that the honorees would be announced to the public this week.”
Gray is also an assistant cross country coach at Belleville East High School and is a volunteer at Zion Lutheran Church and School in Belleville, where he coaches cross country, track and field, baseball and boys basketball.