Harper Recruits New Head Softball Coach

Harper College athletic director Doug Spiwak has announced that Cray Allen will be the school's new head softball coach.

"Cray Allen is a welcome member to our staff," Spiwak said. "His background in education and athletics made him the ideal candidate for the position. As a former player, he has a clear understanding of the value of the community college experience. As a teacher he will keep our students focused on completion. He will also be concentrating on the development of our student athletes. Our coaches are expected serve as mentors as well as educators. He is ready to hit the ground running to get the team moving in the right direction."

Allen comes to Harper following two highly successful head coaching stints at Lake Park High School and most recently, Burlington Central High School. At Burlington Central, Allen led the Rockets to a 46-26 mark from 2010-2012, including a 28-9 record and a regional championship this season.

"It's a good opportunity to come in and take over a program that needs a breath of fresh air," Allen said. "Being able to recruit kids that fit your style of play is something that is very exciting as a coach. It's a step in the right direction for me and for my family. I love high school athletics but being a product of college athletics when I was going to school has really gotten me excited."

Prior to Burlington Central, Allen managed Lake Park to 135 wins against only 23 losses from 2004-2008. During his time at Lake Park, the Lancers won four conference championships, four regional championships and three sectional championships while making the state tournament three times. At the state tournament, Lake Park finished third, fourth and also lost in the quarterfinals.

In college, Allen played baseball for two seasons at Southeastern Illinois College as an outfielder. After earning his Associates Degree, he moved on to Southern Illinois University before graduating from Illinois State University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Sciences in Education. Allen later earned his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix.

Allen currently teaches Technology Education at Lake Park and he has also taught at Homewood-Flossmoor. Allen also coaches travel softball in the off-season. He has coached the Northern Ice '95 Gold team, based out of Wauconda, for two years.

"His connection to high school athletics and travel softball will be key elements to recruiting local players," Spiwak said. "I believe students will recognize his energy and commitment to softball when they make the decision to play for Harper."

With his background as a teacher, Allen understands the importance of academics for a student-athlete.

"When we recruit, we want to make sure that the kids we recruit are prioritized and structured and have the discipline that it takes to be a student first and an athlete second," Allen said. If the kid is going to be focused and motivated in the classroom, then we know that we will be able to motivate them on the softball field. Our priorities will be in order and success in the classroom will lead to that same success on the field."

Those interested in playing college softball this season should contact Allen at callen@harpercollege.edu. The team will begin practice in the fall before their season kicks off in the spring.

Press contact: Phil Burdick, Chief Communications Officer, 847.925.6183