It just makes sense that Tory Gray competes in multiple events for the women’s track and field team at Colby College. Gray is the kind of person who is always doing more than one thing.
A Farmington native and Mt. Blue High School graduate, Gray is a captain and obvious leader on the Mules’ outdoor track and field team. She will probably compete at the New England Small College Athletic Conference championships in three events and is close to qualifying for the New England Division III championships in the javelin. In the fall, she films Colby football home games.
As a Psychology Neuroscience major at Colby, she does lab work on rats at Colby and will be doing more research on concussions and brain trauma in the coming years.
“I have a personality where, if I’m not doing something, I feel like I should be doing something,” Gray said. “I’m kind of always on the move. I need to be busy, I guess. It gives you a good sense of accomplishment, though.”
Gray had her heart set on attending Bates since visiting the school for track in middle school. But her mother insisted she at least visit Colby, and she has done spring and winter sports all four years at the school.
“She’s just a real positive person,” Colby coach Deb Aitken said. “Even when she’s having a frustrating day, she’s still able to remain positive for everybody else. It’s definitely not easy to do. She’s a wonderful person.”
Although she was recruited for track, Gray was also a standout skier at Mt. Blue. She won the Class A slalom and giant slalom in 2006. She skied at Colby her freshman and sophomore seasons, but decided to give it up and competed on the indoor track and field team the last two years. She competed in the javelin, pole vault and high jump at Colby.
“It was so hard,” Gray said. “I didn’t want to give it up, but I needed to close that chapter and move on.”
Through Colby, Gray was able to travel to Greece last year, and she loves working with the rats in the Colby labs. She also has a job lined up at Massachusetts General Hospital, doing research in the brain trauma/concussion lab.
“I’ll actually be working with mice instead of rats,” Gray said. “I’ll be there for two years doing that kind of research. They got a grant from the NFL to do this kind of research. It’s such a hot topic right now, so it’s really, really cool to be at the forefront of it.
“They’re looking at the brains of these deceased football players, and finding this chronic encephalopathy. It’s basically these tangles of cells that kill your brain cells. And I’m kind of concerned with high school students. I think people are more aware now, but I think there needs to be some more safety things going on.”
Gray herself is conflicted now when she watches football. As an athlete, she knows that if you hesitate instead of going at full speed, you can increase your chance for injury. But she’s also seen what the wrong kind of hit can do to a person’s brain.
“It’s like any other sport, in a way,” she said. “If you’re an athlete, you don’t want someone telling you, ‘Don’t hit that person that hard.’ If you change the game that much, you’re going to change the entire game, period.
“But watching football games, I kind of grit my teeth sometimes when I see these big hits. But people love these big hits, too, and it’s a part of the game. I’m kind of hot and cold about it.”
While she’s doing research, Gray will continue to look for ways to be involved in athletics. This season marks not only the end of a successful college career, but also an impetus to keep getting better in a team atmosphere.
“It’s weird to have to close the doors on that, just because I’ve literally being doing sports since I was probably 3 years old,” Gray said. “It’s been just a huge, huge part of my life. I think I’ll probably get into more running, and things like that. I actually just signed up for the Sugarloaf 15K. That’s right after track will be done. That’s my first step in still being competitive.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243