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Tom Cockley Gymkana Program Endowment

With the focus on highlighting the accomplishments of students, this endowment fund enables Gymkana to provide awards of recognition and financial support directly to its student-athletes. Contributions can be made online here.

New Gymkana Program Endowment Memorializes Tom Cockley MA ’80
From left to right: Gymkana coaches Joseph Murray, George Kramer and Tom Cockley MA ’80 as pictured in the 1980 Gymkana Home Show program dedication.

For many at the University of Maryland, Gymkana is not just a gymnastics troupe that showcases high-flying acrobatics and healthy, drug-free lifestyles, it is a second home. Tom Cockley, MA ’80, a former Gymkana assistant coach, helped make it so. Tom passed away on June 14, 2020, at age 69.  

Tom’s family and friends established the Tom Cockley Gymkana Program Endowment with a $50,000 gift in honor of Tom’s passion and dedication to the troupe. Lead donors include John W. Dudley, II (brother-in-law), Andee Aaby (sister-in-law), Anne Cockley (wife), and Joseph Dudley (brother-in-law). 

Tom joined the UMD Gymkana troupe in 1977 as a graduate assistant under coach George Kramer and Joseph Murray while pursuing a master’s of physical education at the School of Public Health (then the College of Physical Education, Recreation and Health). He served in this capacity until 1981 and credited Dr. Kramer’s mentorship and advice with sculpting his coaching philosophy.

“His wife told me a story. She said that when [Tom] was here, Dr. Kramer pulled him aside and told him that he had all of the technical knowledge to be a good coach but that there’s much more to coaching than teaching skills, that he needed to get to know his athletes, care about them, give them sort of a home away from home and really meet them at their level,” said Joshua Montfort ’93 Gymkana’s director and head coach. 

“She told me that he took that to heart and really changed how he approached coaching and felt that it really made him a better coach.”

Tom then became an assistant professor at Jacksonville State University (1981-88) and obtained a doctorate in professional preparation from Florida State (1988-1991). In 1992, Tom joined the faculty at Kentucky State University, where he would stay for the next 20 years. 

Inspired by his time with the UMD Gymkana Troupe, Tom established Gymkana programs at both Jacksonville State University and Kentucky State University.

Forever shaped by Dr. Kramer’s mentorship and Gymkana’s message of teamwork and support, Tom’s coaching philosophy was centered on inclusion and built on the idea that students of all levels could achieve success. 

Contributions to this endowment fund can be made online here.