By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–As the focus was on the field itself, there was this little tent off to the McKay Park-side of the football stadium with a familiar student-athlete running it with Troy Thomas.
Thomas, a 2003 Scots grad, had yearbooks out, a cardboard billboard filled with newspaper clippings and a list where alums could put down their contact information to stay up to date with their Alma Mater as West Salem and McKay were slowly coming onto the field for Friday’s season opener.
“I think it’s important to get the community involved and one of those aspects is getting the alumni to come back,” starts Thomas. “And showcasing some of the past athletic feats that the alumni accomplished helps gathers interest and really brings the community into the present day environment that we created here at McKay.”
Talking to Thomas, were two more McKay Alums in Jevynn and Jeff La Mar.
“And it just like it became a family. Everybody here was like a family, everybody melted in from all the schools and it became a family.
Jevynn, who transferred in and was suppose to go to North Salem initially, held dearly the colors of McKay before, during and after his time as a Royal Scot.
“To be able to wear the colors that I was always told about, to be able to be apart of McKay and since my dad went there and my aunts and uncles,” said the 2007 graduate. “It was just great, it felt like it was an honor to be a La Mar at McKay since I was the sixth to go here, fifth-or-sixth, it was a honor.
“You know, there’s this school pride, that I don’t hear about at other schools and to be apart of this rich tradition at McKay. It’s only been 38 years now, it was just extremely humbling to comeback and coach here. It’s amazing.”
The elder La Mar was part of the first class of McKay Royal Scots that graduated in 1983 and remembers when the school wasn’t nearly completed when the doors opened in 1979 and having to go to elsewhere to take PE Classes and the weight room was a little 12-by-15 space where it is now.
“When it opened, I think the school spirit because we weren’t good at anything and the school spirit was amazing,” said Jeff. “Everyone knew it was like a family, because when you got here, you had very few seniors, and you have other classes that were huge and when you got down to freshman, it was the biggest one.”
Off to the side of the table, closer to the field was 1997 graduate Marco Tavera.
The Tavera name is one of the headlining names around McKay like the La Mar’s or the Thomas’. Marco’s brother Pancho graduate their in 1990, Noah graduate from McKay in 2017 and Noah’s younger brother Alex, is currently a sophomore at the school to name a few of the Tavera’s that have came by McKay through the years.
Now a father himself, Marco remembers the days when he played and coached at McKay, helping McKay Baseball get to the 1997 State Title game in which the banner still hangs in the basketball gym to this day, points to how awesome it is to see the influx of alums coming back to McKay.
“It’s always good, it’s always good when they comeback,” said Tavera. “That’s something that’s been good in the past few years where they’ve reached out to the alums and try to get them back into it the community and the school and I think it’s sweet to see half of them here trying to set up the alumni table, getting stuff going.
“When you leave this place and you graduated and you comeback, it’s a big family no matter what, and being able to see each other and coming back, your seeing them through the community still. it’s a great feeling seeing all of those guys back here and just hanging out here and watching a game and opening up the new field and see it. I know a lot of us wish we had it and now this group gets to have it and it’s kind of a sweet deal.”
Besides playing for the ‘Ship, something that still leaves a sour taste in his mouth in the result of the second-place finish, one memory that sticks with Tavera playing at McKay was when they came back and beat McNary during his junior year.
“Playing here for football, my junior year, we’re playing McNary and we were down by a touchdown with less than a minute to go and we marched down the field, scored and scored a two-point conversion to win the game and then ended up going into the playoffs,” said Tavera. “So that’s probably my most exciting and memorable time playing football on the field at McKay.”
Thomas had two memories when he wrestled at McKay. One involved snapping Sprague’s District Title streak in wrestling and coaching younger brother and 2008 graduate Tyler Thomas a few years later.
“My first memory is when, I was a junior and we snapped Sprague’s eight-year dual meet record winning streak. They had not lost a dual meet in eight-years and in 2002, we beat them by a point and ended that streak.
“And my second favorite memory was coaching my brother his senior year, all the way into the State Finals. That was a pretty proud moment for me, I mean not only are you coaching a athlete, a McKay Royal Scot but your also coaching your family and that’s the important part of who we are at McKay is we’re all family.”