Starting college offers a chance to forge new friendships and find a sense of community on campus. Freshman Mike Gray has already experienced that sense of belonging at Mason.
As a point guard on George Mason University’s men’s basketball team, Gray spent the summer living on campus with his new teammates.
“Getting that time and experience on campus will help me navigate the semester ahead,” he said.
Living and practicing together helped the team create connections and get ready for the upcoming season, Gray said, adding, “The coaches make the team a family environment.”
Gray is optimistic about the basketball season.
“Our goal is to win the [Atlantic 10 conference] and be able to play in the NCAA tournament,” he said.
The summer also provided Gray with the opportunity to take two classes and prepare for the school year. Balancing academics and athletics is something he already has experienced.
“In high school, I attended a boarding school called Blue Ridge—living on campus, kind of like a college setting, being on my own, and learning how to plan for everything. That is going to help me navigate college life,” he said.
Gray is excited for the chance to attend Mason after the challenges of the pandemic.
“The toughest part was how it affected my senior year of high school,” he said. "I lived on campus, but since COVID, we weren’t able to go home. Being away from family for a long period of time was pretty tough.”
Attending Mason appealed to Gray for several reasons, one of which was its proximity to his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He credits his family as major contributors to his success.
“My family is my support system—my mom, dad, sister—them being behind me every step of the way has been the best part,” Gray said. “The love and support they’ve shown me is what pushes me to keep on going.”
Gray plans to major in kinesiology, and he is already taking some classes in the program this fall. He sees it as a way to continue his involvement with sports throughout his lifetime.
“Once the ball stops bouncing, I want to be able to help other athletes continue to play at their highest level,” he said.