Former Head Bowling Coach Tom McKay Passes Away at 92

Former DLS Bowling Coach Tom McKay passed away January 25, 2023, at the age of 92.
He was the grandfather of Aaron Andrew Cumming ‘02. 

A graduate of the University of Detroit and a Navy veteran, McKay made his career in the bowling industry. He worked for the Detroit Bowling Association from 1955 to 1995, when he retired. He was inducted into the Detroit Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Michigan State Bowling Hall of Fame in 1996. 

He also served as the Vice President of the American Bowling Congress, and was later that group’s President from 1992-1993. For a number of years, Tom was a member of the Detroit All-Stars, bowling with the Coca-Cola team. 

He was also an accomplished golfer, and had three holes-in-one. 

Mike Jolly, who served as the DLS Athletic Director for several years, has fond memories of McKay. 

“In 1999/2000, the De La Salle Bowling program was in dire need of strong, mature leadership and genuinely knowledgeable coaching,” Jolly said. “We were blessed to have Tom McKay step in to the void and to fulfill these needs in abundance.

“We attracted this legendary bowling athlete and coach with the assistance of knowledgeable bowling man, John DiLaura ‘57. Although Ken O’Brien had anticipated becoming the new head man, he graciously stepped aside to allow Tom to become head coach in his stead. Tom McKay’s leadership, performance, and gentlemanly reputation were nationally recognized, and he brought instant credibility to De La Salle and our young bowlers.” 

Jolly added, “Under the leadership of Tom McKay and his assistant Ken O’Brien, our bowlers rose to the highest echelons of Michigan performers. The Pilots won the state championship in 2005-2006, the year following Tom’s retirement and Ken’s stepping into the head coaching role.”

Current DLS head coach Jay Lang ‘92, DLS Athletic Hall of Fame ‘22,  also has many fond memories of McKay. 

“To me, Tom was more than a coach. He was family,” Lang said. “Tom was my grandfather’s cousin, so I knew him from a very young age. He was a very determined bowler and worked hard on his own game well into his late 80s. There were times I would see Tom on a random weekday in a bowling center, trying to gain more ball speed or throwing a newer ball in hopes of getting better pin action.” 

Lang continued, “As a coach, he was just as determined.  He really made his students focus on the fundamentals, and spare shooting was key. Young bowlers tend to struggle with spare shooting, and it used to drive Tom crazy. He never let his students see his frustrations, though. He was always encouraging and willing to try any technique to get his guys to improve.”

Lang joined the coaching staff in 2006 when McKay stepped aside and let Ken O’Brien take over.  

“Ken wanted someone younger who may be able to relate to the kids or communicate with them on a different level,” Lang said. “In 2008, Ken took a job as a teacher and had to step away from coaching. So, Tom decided to come back and be the head coach once again. I was Tom’s assistant for two years, and we had great success! Tom was a great mentor to me and taught me many things about coaching youth bowlers. It’s because of his influence that I became the coach I am today. I try to exhibit many of the same values that Tom used many years ago and will continue to use his lessons in the future.”

Jolly said, “De La Salle bowling continues to feature strong, knowledgeable coaching under Jay Lang, a foundation that was laid down by Brian McGinnis (state champions in 1991) and resurrected and enhanced during the Tom McKay era.”

“Thank you so much for all you have done for the sport of bowling and the De La Salle bowling family,” Lang said. “You will be greatly missed.  May you rest peacefully in Heaven.”



Former Head Bowling Coach Tom McKay Passes Away at 92
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