Mary Kate Gray, Merion Mercy Basketball's senior center and second-year captain is averaging 12 ppg and 8 rpg for the Golden Bears this season. A four-year starter, Gray received second team All-Main Line girls basketball honors last winter and All-AACA honors as a sophomore. Merion Mercy Academy basketball coach John Richardson said, “Mary Kate has been an integral part of us turning our basketball program around the past four years. She is a force on the court and draws a great deal of attention from opposing coaches and players. Mary Kate is also a great teammate, and it has been great to watch her grow as a player over the past four years. During the first month of our season, Mary Kate has shown great leadership with her hard work and her positive encouragement with her teammates.” Next fall, Gray will be rowing crew for Cornell University.
Q: What has been your favorite memory of your Merion Mercy basketball career to date?
A: My favorite memory from my Merion Mercy basketball career to date is our first district championship playoff game last year against Mount Saint Joseph. During our regular season, we had not been able to defeat the Mount, falling short in some close games. However, with an amazing effort by the whole team and a lot of support coming from our school community in the fan section, we were able to take home the victory. The pride I felt in being a part of the program in that moment was amazing, and it made me truly love the sport of basketball.
Q: How do you see your leadership role as a center?
A: As a center, I am often in the middle of a lot of the offense, spending a majority of my time in the lane surrounded by guards on the perimeter. Being able to see almost the whole floor, I see the role of a center as vital to the success of the team’s offense. I use this role as a leadership opportunity to call attention to openings on the floor as I see them. Being able to help guide the team to a successful play, even when I am not scoring, is one of the greatest assets I possess as a center.
Q: What do you think is the biggest key of effective rebounding?
A: Rebounding is both an individual and team practice. Individually, you must always box your girl out to eliminate the competitors for the ball. However, you must also trust that your teammates are also boxing out to create the best opportunity for your team to retrieve the ball. Therefore, I think the biggest key to boxing out is always being responsible for your individual role in getting the rebound, and if everyone does that, then your team will always be successful.
Q: What part of your game have you worked on the most recently?
A: The part of my game that I have been working on the most recently is my inside post moves. It is always important to have variety down low so you aren’t predictable for the defense to read. Therefore, our team has been working a lot to create moves to counteract any defensive play, creating the greatest opportunity to capitalize on every play.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in basketball. Have you always been a center?
A: From a very young age I have been the tallest on the court. Therefore, from the start of my basketball career, I have been playing the center. Spending a lot of time down low has allowed me to develop a lot of skills, and it has made me the player I am today.
Q: Who have been your top basketball mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: I feel like inspiration on the court comes from a lot of places, but my biggest mentors during my career were coaches. The first is a coach that I had while playing for the Comets in the 5th grade, Alison Weiss. It was the first time I had a coach who was truly a post player, similar to I, and she helped me to develop a lot of the skills that I still used today. Another coach that has truly been a mentor to me is a coach I have now, Rick Pergolini. Coach Perg, as we call him, brought me into the Merion program, which is one of the greatest blessings I could have ever asked for. Additionally, he inspires us each day to see the small things on the court, and his love for us pushes our team to be great. My final mentor that I have is Merion’s head coach, John Richardson. I have never met anyone who loves the game of basketball more than Coach John, and it is inspiring. Specifically, he loves our program and he uses his passion to help our team grow in every way possible. He spends every minute of practice pushing us, while also spending hours off the court helping our team. I don’t think our team could have any of the success it has without him.
Q: What advantages do you think being a multi-sport athlete offers, compared to specializing in just one sport in high school?
A: I believe a multi-sport athlete offers a great deal of assets to each team they participate in. First of all, being a multi-sport athlete myself has pushed me to love and appreciate the basketball season so much more. Knowing that I only get to play for about three months of the year makes me cherish each second, pushing me to work harder each time I’m on the court. Secondly, being a multi-sport athlete also aids me physically, as my other sport (rowing) prepares me physically for each basketball season. Finally, in high school it is important to diversify your field, especially if you intend to extend your athletic career into college. For me, rowing was the sport that I chose to pursue in college, but the basketball season each year was a great mental rest into a different competitive environment. This change throughout the school year allows me to love each sport more in its own way.
Q: You played in an AAU basketball league until your freshman year at Merion Mercy. What has been your favorite AAU basketball experience?
A: My favorite basketball experience while playing AAU was traveling to Washington D.C. as a team in 8th grade to play against teams from all across the country. This was a great bonding trip for our team, as well as a great athletic competition against many good teams.
Q: What is your favorite academic course at Merion Mercy? What do you think you might like to major in at Cornell? Is there a career path that particularly appeals to you at the present time?
A: My favorite academic course to date at Merion Mercy is AP Chemistry. The course, taught by Dr. Hogg, is very challenging and rewarding, and I find the material we cover to be very interesting. I have always been most interested in the math and science fields, appealing to classes such as AP Chem and AP Calc BC. I am going to be majoring in Biological Sciences at Cornell University, and I intend to continue schooling after receiving my undergraduate to become a doctor and pursue the medical field.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Merion Mercy other than basketball and crew?
A: Ministry Team, National Honors Society, Environmental Club, Mercy Mission Corps, National Art Honors Society, Mathletes.
Fun facts – Mary Kate Gray
Favorite book: The Book Thief.
Favorite author: Jane Austen.
Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy.
Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice,
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Just Wanna Rock by Lil Uzi Vert.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite place to visit: St. John’s, Virgin Islands.
Favorite pre-game meal: Pasta.
Person I most admire, and why: “The person I admire most is my rowing coach, Mr. Duling. He is physically impaired from the waist down due to an accident at a boathouse, but he returns each day to the scene of the accident because of his love for the sport and his love for our team. He is the definition of bravery and compassion, and I can only aspire to be a fraction of the person that he is.”
Family members: parents Thomas and Christina, brothers Matthew and Patrick.