fred_corray1The generally recognized “first” full-time football coach for the Salem Wildcats and the coach of Salem’s first district basketball champion was among the first to be Inducted into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame. 

Fred H. Corray, was coach of all sports in 1926 and remained until 1932. While Salem had played five football games the preceding year, with a 2-2-1 record, in their first full season under Coach Corray they complied a 7-3-0 record.

Prior to the 16-0 win in 1939 under Van Howe, the nearest thing to a victory over Centralia in football was a 6-6 tie in 1929 under Coach Corray. 1929 featured four tie games in a 5-1-4 season with the other three being scoreless deadlocks with Mt Vernon, Carlyle and Pana.

A 1926 University of Illinois graduate, Mr. Corray had a varied and interesting pre-university career coaching basketball at Sidney High School, a three-year school. At Sidney, he
had a 6’6″ center, Henry Witt and designed the first “Alley Oop” play. In a game against Tolono, Witt scored 33 baskets, a remarkable feat for basketball in the 1920’s.

At the University of Illinois, Mr. Corray had football coaching instruction from the legendary Bob Zuppke and Milt Olander; basketball under Craig Boby, longtime Illini coach, and
“Piggy” Lambert famed Purdue coach; baseball under Carl Lundgren,longtime Illinois coach; and track under Harry Gill. In his senior year, he was put in charge of the Illinois freshmen
football team.

After leaving Salem, while in business with his brother in Champaign-Urbana, he became football and basketball announcer for all University of Illinois games on WILL and remained
at that post for 17 years. During that period, he also broadcast the Illinois High School State Tournament games held In Huff Gymnasium, the only link many fans had to the games. In
1969, the U of I “I” Men’s Association honored him for outstanding service to U of I athletics.

While at Salem, he was the first to organize PE classes, originated and aided lettermen in the formation of “S” Club. With no money in the school budget for lockers in the dressing rooms, he staged a “business men’s” basketball game and raised the funds. He also solicited funds for backstops and softball equipment and made himself available so that students could play softball before school and at noon, and arranged for the gym to be open during winter months so non-athletes could play basketball.

Mr. Corray also coached basketball and track. His 1927-28 basketball team won the first “district” tournament for Salem in the State elimination series back when the scheme of things was a set-up of “district-sectional-state” tournaments.

A unique distinction for Mr. Corray was the formation of the “Corray Club” by former players and students which held its first meeting in 1938. It became an annual event looked forward to by former Salem athletes and students of the Corray era and, in some instances, children of former athletes, and Mr. Corray.