Mesquite needed a football coach. Matt Gracey wanted to bring his family back to Arizona, and a match was made.
Gracey was officially approved as Mesquite's new football coach on Tuesday to replace the retired Mike Reardon, Gracey's hiring was approved during Gilbert school district's governing board meeting.
The 36-year-old has been a head coach for 11 years, including five at Winslow from 2000 through 2004 seasons, where he went 43-13. He moved to Port Angeles in Washington for two seasons, and spent the last four years at Sherman E. Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest, California, where he was 20-25 overall before resigning in January and cited family reasons for wanting to return to Arizona.
"When the boss says where she wants to live and raise a family, that's where you start applying,' Gracey said, referring to his wife.
Noting Mesquite's 9-win team in 2010 and its coaches and kids is a far cry from the 9-loss teams he's inherited in his previous stops, Gracey figured this is the right time to leave California's still-struggling economy with his wife and two children, and spoke of a fondness for the Phoenix area stemming from visits to the Valley during their Winslow days.
During his years at Winslow, he led the Bulldogs to the 3A state semifinals twice and the quarterfinals once. During that five-year span he coached against then-Show Low coach Jeremy Hathcock (now at Desert Ridge) and he spoke with Hathcock about the Mesquite position. Hathcock gave a glowing review.
"It's going to be neat to be part of the East Valley again and its traditions being built," Gracey said. "It's only growing. I think I watched Hamilton three times on TV."
Gracey expects to finish out teaching the school year in California and move to Arizona in mid-June, but hopes to make a visit to his new school in late March. He can teach physical education or English, but will likely teach P.E. at Mesquite.
"Normally you don't fall into a position like this," he said of inheriting Mesquite's football program post-Reardon. "With the coaches and athletes there, it's quite a fortunate position to be coming into."