A lot coaches preach the importance of their team being a family. At Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, many of the members of the football program are family.
Head coach Darren McKay has worked with his brother Shawn, the Titans’ offensive coordinator, and his dad Mike, the offensive line coach, for 23 seasons at three different schools, and is entering his sixth year at Beamer. Spencer and Carter McKay – Darren’s sons – coach wide receivers and defensive backs.
And then there’s Colin McKay, Shawn’s son. He’s a senior wing back and defensive back and one of the Titans’ key threats on offense.
That’s a lot of McKays on the Beamer sideline.
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“This is family time together,” Shawn McKay said. “To have a number of our kids and nephews come through, and now they’re coaching with us. We’re pretty fortunate. It’s pretty special.”
Darren and Shawn McKay have been involved in football most of their lives, including five years coaching together at Timberline and 12 years at Gig Harbor. At every school they they got their family involved with their teams in some way, such as ball boys or managers. Darren’s oldest daughter, Taylor, who is now 26, remains involved with the sport by being the keeper of her dad’s iPad, which has the team’s instant replay system.
Spencer McKay said while it’s normal for him to have family involved in his football, he acknowledges his experience is special.
“You definitely don’t see it very often,” Spencer McKay said. “... I grew up in it from Timberline, being a ball boy and all of that. Then at Gig Harbor I was ball boy and I got the opportunity to play high school football with my uncle, grandpa and dad as a coach. That was pretty cool as well. Not many high school kids get to say that.”
Not many coaches do either. Darren McKay said his focus is football when he’s on the field, but every so often, thoughts of his family creep in.
“I can specifically remember a time at a game, just before kickoff, putting the headsets on and I thought how unique it is that my dad is up in the box talking to me getting ready to go,” he said. “My brother is next to me getting ready to call plays. My oldest son, who was a sophomore at the time, he was on special teams and getting ready to go out for the kickoff. My daughter is next to me with the water and I’ve got the three younger boys (nephews Garrett and Colin and son Carter) who were ball boys.
“I just remember thinking, this is pretty unique.”
The family tie is also convenient for Shawn, who can coach and watch his son play at the same time.
“It’s fun that he’s here and that I get to watch him play, whether than worrying about going to watch him play somewhere else,” Shawn McKay said. “That’s fortunate that the family can go to one site and watch him play. His mother and I, we’re proud of him because he’s a good kid and a good student. The fact that he can play football is just icing on the cake.”
Colin, who is a 4.0 student and will graduate high school with his Associate of Arts degree, is integral in all three phases of the game – he’s also got a role in returns for the Titans, who finished 7-0 in the Olympic Division of the North Puget Sound last season en route to an 8-2 record. And while his dad and uncles are responsible for his playing time, he doesn’t worry about favoritism.
“I know (my dad) is going to do whatever it takes to win,” Colin McKay said. “Sometimes, I don’t need to get the ball to win. That’s fine with me, as long as we’re winning, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Mike McKay, 74, has been involved in football for 62 years and passed his passion for the game onto his sons. He still enjoys the game, especially since he can spend that time with his family.
“I don’t know too many 74-year old’s who spend 200 days a year with their sons,” he said.
He said he leaves the major football decisions to his sons.
“The only time I pull rank is when their car breaks down or they have a plumbing problem,” he joked. “That’s when my rank counts.”
On gameday, McKays populate the stands as well. Listen closely and you might hear one, Darren McKay said.
“One of the officials that has been officiating for a long time came up to me (before a game) and he says, ‘Is your mom going to be here? I remember your mom yelling at me when you and your brother were playing quarterback,’” he said. “I said, ‘You’re going to get it worse tonight because she’s got a grandson on the field.’ ”