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Leading By Example

Nov 11, 2021

This feature originally appeared in the 2021 Fall edition of the Cal Sports Quarterly. The Cal Athletics flagship magazine features long-form sports journalism at its finest and provides in-depth coverage of the scholar-athlete experience in Berkeley. Printed copies are mailed four times a year to Bear Backers who give annually at the Bear Club level (currently $600 or more). For more information on how you can receive a printed version of the Cal Sports Quarterly at home, send an email to CalAthleticsFund@berkeley.edu or call (510) 642-2427.

Christopher Grey lets his play speak for him, and it's said a lot of good things about his time in Berkeley.
 
A fifth-year senior, Grey is a key starter on the backline for the Cal men's soccer team. He's also a data science major who is eyeing possible futures in the disparate worlds of corporate America and professional soccer.
 
"He's an incredible student," Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. "He has an extremely challenging major that he excels in. He is probably a little more on the quiet and reserved side, but definitely on the field his play is loud and clear."
 
"For me, it's valuable to be able to be a good listener and hear what the coaches and players next to me have to say, take that feedback and do what's best for the team," Grey said. "That doesn't necessarily mean you have to be the loudest person in the room."
 
Grey, who earned Pac-12 All-Academic recognition in 2018, is serious about putting his future degree to good use. He spent the past two summers interning, first at Johnson & Johnson as a data science intern in 2020 and then at Salesforce as a software engineer intern in 2021. He is currently a research intern with Microsoft.
 
"I've really enjoyed the internships and understanding what the corporate world feels like in a software/technical role," Grey said.
 
On the field, Grey is a talented left back who earned Pac-12 first-team honors after the spring 2021 season. Hailing from San Jose, Grey participated in the San Jose Earthquakes Academy with future Cal teammates JJ Foe Nuphaus and Alonzo Del Mundo before beginning his college career.
 
Grey – known to his teammates and coaches as CJ (Christopher Jonathan) – was reticent even then.
 
"He has his moments," Del Mundo said, "but he sticks to leading by example."
 
Grimes added, "CJ's a leader just through how serious he is about academics, and he's a leader in his approach of balancing academics and athletics as a college student-athlete. That's his most impactful leadership quality – showing the other players you can have a demanding major and be a top player at the Division I level at the same time."
 
Grey developed his love for soccer as a toddler.
 
"My dad introduced me to soccer, and he would always have soccer on the TV," Grey said. "And then he brought me to AYSO and competitive soccer. I was born here, but my parents came from Jamaica, where soccer is a big sport, so he would take me to Earthquakes games and professional games when European teams would come play here in the summer."
 
Grey grew up wanting to be like former Barcelona greats Xavi, Dani Alves and Andres Iniesta or like Argentine legend Lionel Messi. His burgeoning skills earned him U.S. youth national team call-ups at the under-14, U-17 and U-18 levels. Jamaica's under-20 national team also called him into camp.
 
Grimes took notice of Grey and recruited him to Cal, where he has flourished in a program that's put numerous Bears in the pro ranks. With graduation on the horizon, Grey may soon have to decide whether he will continue playing the beautiful game or move on to a non-athletics environment.
 
"He'll have some opportunities in the working field and possibly some opportunities to play professionally," Grimes said. "It's the best of both worlds."