It’s been a long time coming for Michael Wray Jr., who in just the eighth grade began thinking up plans to make his own board game.
He was assigned a project in the middle of his first year at Liberty High School in his hometown of Bedford, Va. He had no clue what he should do for the project until a nearby game-board piece struck his mind.
“I was sitting there and was clueless about what to do,” Wray explained. “I looked and in front of me were a pair of dice from the game Aggravation. Immediately, I thought about something I was passionate about, and knew what I wanted to do for my project.”
He thought up a game that was unique and suited his love for the sport he played, football.
“I began working on it all the time and thought up the ins and outs all through high school,” Wray said.
When Wray left high school, he enlisted in the military, which he thought may hurt his chance of continuing to work on the game he had so much passion for finishing.
He was wrong.
“I enlisted and got the guys involved in the game,” he said with a smile. “They loved it, and we would play it when we got the chance. I kept developing the game during my enlistment and finally was able to finish it.”
So what is the game, exactly?
It’s called “You’re The Coach” and is an interactive board game where a player uses a pair of dice to roll for a numerous amount of actions. You can pick the play, choose your defense and pick the players you want to use. The whole game is completely unique and custom to each and every player.
The title doesn’t lie.
You are the coach.
Wray, who now resides in Raymondville, a small city about 65 miles northeast of Seymour in nearby Texas County, has gathered support across the National Football League (NFL) and in the collegiate Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Big 12 Conference from players who have received his game and enjoy the accuracy of the plays.
“I was shocked to gain support across the United States from the many college and professional players who have played the game, enjoyed it and then were able to talk to me about how accurate it is to playing real football,” Wray noted.
“That was my whole point to creating (the game). I wanted it to feel real.”
For his primary vocation, Wray is a full-time semi-truck driver, driving routes cross country in his truck, which is marked up in advertisements for his game.
While he is on the truck full time, this doesn’t slow his passion for You’re The Coach’s success.
“I’m always working, whether it be on the truck or on my game, and I am always finding something new to do or somebody new to talk to about this board game,” Wray said.
“I want this game to succeed, and I know it will.”
Wray is working on a trademark and obtaining a U.S. patent, along with submitting an application to appear on the hit television show “Shark Tank,” from which he is awaiting a call back.
As of the present, he has sold over 500 games, all of them made in the U.S., locally, around the state of Missouri.
“I will always keep this game in the United States, because it’s for the best,” Wray concluded. “I can’t wait to see where this game goes and am so proud of how far it has come.
“None of this would have been possible without God or my fiancé, Chrissy. I give all glory to God and to my fiancé.”
You can find You’re The Coach locally at the Grove Gamers Guild in nearby Mountain Grove for $29.95 or on Amazon for $38 by just searching “You’re The Coach.”