Michael's World

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Former Bedford resident aims to put board game on shelves

By Denton Day

By: Denton Day
Sports Editor

In the mid 80s when Michael Wray was attending Liberty High School he was tasked with a school project requiring the creation of a short story. The project gave birth to the idea of a football themed board game, You’re the Coach.

Wray would sit in his room dreaming and perfecting the board game. His mother deemed it his own little world.

Over 30 years after he graduated from Liberty High School he is getting closer and closer to seeing his dream be placed on shelves.

Wray played on the defensive line for the Minutemen in the mid-1980s. In 1982 Wray gave his life to Jesus. Around that time is when the idea first came to him.

“God gave me this vision,” Wray said. “This game is not only fun but can be used as a witnessing tool. God is behind this.”

You’re the Coach simulates a full football game but rather than kids looking at a screen to play they can play physically.

“Board games create interaction,” Wray said. “Kids can interact with parents and their peers rather than competing against a computer.”

Play can be simulated at the professional level, collegiate level or high school level. But due to licensing issues there are no names of players in the game. The ones playing the game can create their own names for each individual player. But because of Wray’s Bedford roots Liberty is heavily mentioned.

Crafting a board game has a unique set of struggles. Clarity is arguably the most important part in creating the game, especially when it comes to the rules.

The game itself features every single rule that a normal football game features. To those who regularly watch football every Friday, Saturday or Sunday in the Fall the concept of those rules might be second nature. But the game is designed for every one and even the most complex of rules have to be understood by those who carry the most basic knowledge of football rules.

Wray, who served for nearly two decades in the U.S. Navy, used his time serving to help craft the rules. Playing with those he served with allowed a wide range of people to play the game and give realistic feedback directly to the source.

With over 30 years of work put into the game Wray continues to modify the rules to make them as simple as possible for everyone. Next, he needs to convince people to sell it.

Rejection is a major part of the process in eventually landing the game a spot on shelves and Wray has had his fair share of rejection. Both Parker Brothers and Milton and Bradley have given nothing but a cold shoulder and a dial tone. Wal-Mart has given Wray more hope but still has not picked up the game and placed it on shelves.

“I’m older and more organized now,” Wray said. “I have a much better knowledge of what they’re [stores] expecting.”

Wray has turned to social media to help market his game and continue to reach it further and further.

“Facebook has made a huge difference,” Wray stated.

You’re the Coach has an official Facebook page that is quickly approaching over 2,000 members. In total the game has received over 1,500 comments and reviews, all of which are positive Wray added.

In his quest to continue to grow the game a main goal of Wray would be to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank. Shark Tank is a show that allows entrepreneurs to pitch some sort of idea in front of the sharks–five self-made titans of their respective industry–with a chance of the idea getting picked up according to ABC.

“I’ve had this vision as a little kid,” Wray said. “I would love to go on Shark Tank and share it.”
One of the more notable sharks–especially in the world of sports–is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Wray’s dream scenario would be to pitch to Cuban, with the help of legendary Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, and get the game picked up.

 “Can you imagine one day going on Wikipedia and seeing ‘Michael Wray, American Inventor, better than Monopoly,’” Wray said with a chuckle.

That however, is still a dream and until that day comes Wray will continue to work and continue to try and get his game on the shelves of stores. Whether that means pestering big stores or simply being in the right spot at the right time.

 “I’m never giving up on this,” Wray proclaimed.