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Get to know new OCU Athletic Director Corey Bray

The Oklahoma City University Marketing & Communications team recently had the chance to catch up with the university’s new athletic director, Corey Bray, for a Q&A as Bray prepares to begin his term on the OCU campus.

Bray, currently the vice president and director of athletics at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, will begin at OCU later this month, taking over an athletics program that recently claimed its 71st NAIA national championship.

Bray – who will be joined at OCU by his wife Leslie, and two sons, Luke and Landry – shared details about how he got into athletics administration, what he liked to do growing up, and the last show he binged in Netflix.

Q: Where are you from originally, and did you grow up there most of your childhood, or did you live in different places?

A: I am originally from Oregon. I was born in Eugene and lived there for three years. Then, we moved to Roseburg. We lived there for 10 years before moving back to Eugene, so I spent my entire childhood living in Oregon.

Q: What were some of your hobbies and pastimes growing up?

A: I was involved in a lot of different sports as a child – football, soccer, basketball, baseball, track & field, BMX racing. I also enjoyed camping and fishing with my family. I was also involved in Cub and Boy Scouts, and I played the trumpet for a few years as a child.

Q: Is there anything you did when you were growing up that your family does now – anything you’ve carried along to them?

A: Our two boys are involved in multiple sports each and we like to go camping and fishing. While my family isn't involved in BMX racing, my boys and I like to go mountain biking.

Q: Anything else that you like to do in your free time these days?

A: We have a boat and we like to spend summer weekends on the water swimming, water skiing and tubing. I also like to snow ski, but I haven't been able to do that recently. I like to work out during lunch time to take a break from work and reenergize for the afternoon. Free time these days is also spent watching our boys compete in their various sports – football, lacrosse, track & field, soccer, golf and archery.

Q: What’s the last TV show you’ve binged? Two thumbs up or not?

A: The last TV show I binge-watched was “Ozark” on Netflix – two thumbs up.

Q: Are you a morning person or night person? Why?

A: I am a morning person. I have more energy in the morning (especially after a good night’s sleep) and I am more mentally focused in the morning. In the evening (when I don’t have a game to be at) I usually just want to relax by watching some TV.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to work in athletics? If not, how did you land in that area of work?

A: After earning a bachelor's degree I went to graduate school to earn a degree in sport psychology because I wanted to be a sport psychologist. I wanted to work with athletes on performance enhancement, teach sport psychology and maybe do a little bit of research and coaching. After earning a master's degree, I wanted to take some time off from school before starting a Ph.D. program in sport psychology. The first job I got after finishing my master's degree was at the NCAA national office. It was there I realized I wanted to be an intercollegiate athletics administrator. My Ph.D. plans have been on hold ever since as I pursue my career in athletics administration. I don't see myself doing anything else professionally.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with athletics and student athletes?

A: There are a lot of things I enjoy about working in college athletics. I guess the thing I like most is knowing that every day we provide an opportunity for young men and women to earn a bachelor’s degree through their participation in intercollegiate athletics, while also learning valuable life skills that will impact their lives as spouses, parents and professionals. That is what my coaches and administrators did for me as a student-athlete, and I am happy to pay it forward as an athletics director to current and future student-athletes.

Q: Have you had a chance to research Oklahoma City much yet? If so, what are you interested in learning or doing once you get to town?

A: Yes, we have done some research on Oklahoma City. We are excited to ride the mountain bike trails in the area, take our boat to Lake Thunderbird, watch Thunder and OKC Dodgers games, go to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and learn about the Native American cultures in the area.

Q: OCU just claimed our 71st NAIA national championship, extending the streak of winning at least one national title every year since 1994. What are your plans for keeping that streak going?

A: The total number of national championships and the streak are very impressive. They are one of the many reasons I was interested in pursuing this opportunity. Having been on a national championship winning football team in college (and part of two teams that lost in national championship games), I know just how difficult it is to win a national championship. The first thing I need to do is do a lot of listening to and learning from student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, alumni, donors and sponsors. I need to learn the culture of the department and the university. I need to learn what is working well and what needs improvement. Then we need to develop plans to sustain what is working well and improve what needs some help. This will be a group effort from all of those groups I mentioned. Ultimately, it will come down to the people as we need to recruit the right student-athletes, retain and hire the right coaches and administrators, build fan support that will enhance the student-athlete experience and build donor support that will enhance OCU athletics facilities and operating budgets. If it was easy, anyone could do it. The challenge of it is the fun part – the daily hunger for excellence.

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