‘It’s time’: STU women’s volleyball head coach retiring after 11 years

Still of Don McKay, the coach for the St. Thomas University Women's Volleyball team. (Submitted: STU Athletics)

St. Thomas University women’s volleyball coach Don McKay will say goodbye to the Tommies at the end of this season, leaving behind an 11-year-old legacy. 

An inductee of the New Brunswick Volleyball Hall of Fame, McKay graduated from STU in 1974. He returned in 2013 to take over the women’s volleyball team after Ed Welch retired. 

“It’s been a been a real good run, the players have been great, we’ve had some competitive teams, we built for a real strong team,” he said. 

Coach McKay said the most important factor in his decision was that he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially with his grandchildren.

“My two grandchildren are two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half, I’m ready to spend a little more time with them and with my own family.” 

The hardest part for McKay is thinking about retirement “every waking hour.” 

“I’m ready for [retirement], I’m looking forward to it but I don’t get too far ahead,” he said. “I try to stay here in the moment, we still have a job to do and that’s to be in the playoffs and then win the playoffs and go to Nationals.”

During his time as coach, McKay has worked alongside three other coaches who he said helped him see other viewpoints. 

“Carys, irreplaceable … Paul is a strategist, he dissects everything; Serge has been excellent, he is young and keen.”

When it comes to the program, it allows players to grow as individuals and not just athletes, said McKay. 

For the upcoming years, Coach McKay hopes that the program still gives importance to giving back to the community and for the team to remain strong.

“We can play with any team in the league and on any given day beat any team in the league.”

Carys Storey, assistant coach and McKay’s right hand of nine years, said that the team might not understand how lucky they are to have him.

“If he has to hold them accountable, he does it in such a respectful way. He doesn’t talk down to his players, he doesn’t try to embarrass them. He’s all about learning,” said Storey.

“He’s one of the only people I’ve ever met that is never looking for accolades for what he does.” 

She compared her relationship with McKay with the cranky judges of the Muppets, that she’ll say things out loud, he won’t hear and then he’ll say the same thing. 

“What he means to me? A lot,” said Storey.

She said that McKay’s best strengths are his kindness, his compassion and “making sure players understood their role not as athletes but as a member of the community.”

Maddie MacGregor, a fifth-year student-athlete, said that the team has always felt heard and cared about with McKay. 

“In the past five years, I’ve definitely gone through some hard times and he’s been there for me every second of that,” said MacGregor. 

“I couldn’t ask for a better coach for my university experience.”