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Gravley sets sights on homecoming

MURFREESBORO n For Jeff Gravley, Saturday, Aug. 6 marks sort of a homecoming.

Gravley, a sports anchor/reporter for WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh, is coming to Murfreesboro to serve as the Celebrity Grand Marshal for this year’s North Carolina Watermelon Festival Parade. The event is set for a 10 a.m. start on Saturday down Murfreesboro's Main Street.

Gravley is no stranger to Murfreesboro. His late grandparents, Raleigh and Delphia Futrell, are from Murfreesboro. His late aunt, Cloyce Futrell, ran the old Fashion Center on Main Street.

His mother, the former Patsy Futrell, grew-up in Murfreesboro. She attended Chowan College where she was a cheerleader and was active in numerous college activities.

His father, Jim Gravley, was a Junior College All-American football player at Chowan College. Later, he served as a football coach at the old Murfreesboro High School.

"I'm really looking forward to my visit on Saturday to the Watermelon Festival," Jeff Gravley said. "It's like a homecoming for me."

Born in Rocky Mount and raised in Oxford, Gravley now serves as the primary sports anchor for WRAL-TV.

He graduated from J.F. Webb High School in 1981 and earned a degree from N.C. State University in 1985.

Gravley began his TV career in 1985 as an intern for WRAL, then progressed to sports photography and reporting. He moved to sports anchor in 1995, serving as the main sports anchor for 10 p.m. newscast.

Gravley left WRAL in 2000 as he accepted a job as the primary sports anchor at WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. He returned to Raleigh and WRAL in 2003.

To date, Gravley has earned three regional Emmys for sports journalism and is the 2004 Miller Lite/Russ Catlin Award winner for Outstanding Motorsports Coverage. In 1998, Gravley was honored by his peers as the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

&uot;My goal has always been to provide information and present stories in a unique way – tell the audience something they don’t already know,&uot; Gravley said concerning his news philosophy. &uot;I treat my sportscasts like a Whitman Sampler; a little of this and a little of that to, hopefully, satisfy as many tastes as possible.&uot;

Gravley said he likes North Carolina because it is his home.

&uot;Plus, it is a short drive to the coast to drop a fishing line into the ocean,&uot; Gravley said.

His most interesting assignments include spending 40 minutes with Michael Jordan, Jim Valvano’s "Never Give Up" speech at Reynolds Coliseum, Ohio State’s national football championship win over Miami, covering the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and numerous trips to the NCAA men's basketball Final Four.