PERSPECTIVES: All or nothing

Kassi Jackson

Stepping into CrossFit Dig Deep can be intimidating. Rings hang from the ceiling, weights are stacked in the corner, the equipment is bigger than the people in the gym and a giant, muscular clown adorns the wall.

And then there is the gym’s owner, Michael Wray, who member Missy Faughn describes as “Mighty Mouse: big man, small package.”

“There’s an aura about him … badass, military man, cop, renegade kind of guy,” Faughn said. “He makes you strive to do the best you can do, or he’ll yell at you — in a good way.”

Wray, also a McCracken County deputy sheriff and a SWAT team leader, pours his heart and soul into the success of the members of his gym. He pushes them to push themselves to the next level.

The gym “is what it is because of him and all the hard work that he’s put into it,” said JoAnna Harper, a coach at CrossFit Dig Deep.  “Everybody respects him so much.”

“He’s kind of intimidating to a degree,” Faughn said. “But then you get to know him a little bit, and you realize he’s kind of a soft teddy bear deep down.”

The soft, vulnerable side of Wray shines through when he’s with his 1-year-old daughter, Kylee. His wife of four years, Sammy, speaks affectionately about Wray’s “Mini-Me,” who’s a daddy’s girl.

When Wray comes home, Kylee runs into his arms, lighting up in admiration of her father.

“When you can come home and Kylee looks up, and she’s got her grin ear-to-ear, and she comes running up … it’s probably the most rewarding thing I get on a day-to-day basis,” Wary said. “For that little bit of time, everything else goes away, and (I) don’t have a lot of problems.”

Kylee is constantly drawn to where her father is, even if he’s trying to take a few quick minutes to change out of his uniform when he gets home.

A month before Kylee was born, Wray and Sammy bought the gym. With a baby on the way, Wray knew that the success of the gym was more important than ever.

“Everyone has that time in their life where they’re like ‘I cannot fail,’” Wray said. “That was mine.”

Kassi Jackson is the photo assigning editor, contact her at [email protected]