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Interview with Daniel McKim (4/10/11)

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    Posted: 8/24/11 at 7:51am
Interview with Daniel McKim (4/10/11)

Here is the hot new pro National Champion.  This is a nice guy.  I got to compete with him years ago and see him go from a nice guy I competed with to someone who crushed me.  I love the fact he is a Christian man and stands up for that.  I think in the world today young men need to see you can be strong and be Christian.  We don't have enough roll models for that.  So here he is, a young man you can be proud of in the games. 


How old are you?

29 - December 3, 1981


Where were you born?

 Columbia, Mo

Where do you live now?

Greenwood, Mo - Small suburb of Kansas City, MO.  I'm a small town guy - growing up in Maryville, MO.  My grandma's farm is outside of town, and my two brothers and I used to love to go "work" on the farm.  This usually meant some odd project my grandma needed done (it was more of a "hobby" farm that didn't run much livestock or crop).  My grandma's farm is still my absolute favorite place to go in this world.  I would take it over a beach, resort, hotel, or any other trip.  


How did you end up there?

When I graduated, my wife and I moved to the Kansas City area for her student teaching position and work for me.  We just recently moved to Greenwood when my jobs changed.


What do you drive?

1994 Ford Ranger.  230,000 miles on it.  No power steering, no power windows, five-speed, A/C is busted, heat only works when the truck is in motion, the radio works less than half the time if you pound the door to fix the short in it.  I call it my "Ramsey" car; no payments, low maintenance, decent gas mileage.  Love my truck.  


You ever change your own oil?

Yes; have done so for years.  I just cringe paying someone that much money to do something I can do in a few minutes.


What size shoe do you wear?



Have you gone green?

Eh ... kind of?  I recycle.  I hunt and fish, so I have a lot of love and respect for God's creation.


What do you think about global warming?



Do you recycle?



What do you do for a living?

I'm an Account Manager for KeyBank Real Estate Capital.  I manage a portfolio of commercial real estate mortgages.


How did you get into that?

Um ... good question.  This is my second stint with KeyBank.  Thankfully I didn't burn any bridges the first time and was able to come back!  Both times, KeyBank got me out of crummy work situations; for that, I have a lot of respect and loyalty to KeyBank.  Good people.  


Tell us about your education?

Not much to say!  I have a Bachelor's degree - Public Relations.  I worked in PR and marketing for almost five years before coming to the bank.  


As a kid growing up, what was your first job?

Lawn mowing (unless you count the "work" on grandma's farm she used to pay us for).  I used to mow for a buddy of mine who had a ton of yards, then I started my own business from a bunch of his "cast-offs."  These were lawns or people he didn't want to deal with anymore.  From there, it spread with word-of-mouth.  I did that for multiple summers, then spent the college summers working on another farm or working in a lawn seed warehouse.  


When you grew up as a kid, what sports did you play?

My brothers and I played everything; whatever was in season.  Lots of football, basketball and baseball, for sure.  I played league soccer for one year; my team lost every game and we neglected to score a single goal.  It didn't take me long to realize soccer would not be my best sport.  I was a big basketball fan though; hours of shooting hoops in the driveway in the dark, the rain, even the snow.  


Did you throw in high school and if so what did you throw?

I almost didn't!  Middle school track didn't go that well (I've never run so much in my life, and I didn't do any events other than shot and disc).  I almost played baseball my freshman year of high school (nevermind the fact I hadn't played since the "coach-pitch" days).  I threw shot and disc in high school, and threw just well enough to get a scholarship to my hometown university - Northwest Missouri State University.  My high school bests were 53'3" in the shot and 168' in the disc.


Tell us about throwing in college.

Some of the greatest and worst times in my life.  I threw 57'3" and 169'6" in the shot and disc my sophomore year, on pace to break and surpass 60' by my senior and maybe even junior year as I had gone from throwing 49' as a freshman to 57' as a sophomore.  I never reached those numbers again, even though I was stronger and faster as a junior and senior.  My coach left and a new coach came in; he changed everything, and I wasn't able to recover my technique of old.  When my coach left, I considered transferring to Iowa State University to throw, as I would have been an all conference thrower there my sophomore year.  All in all, it was an amazing experience, and had I thrown better, I probably would never have taken up the highland games; I'd be chasing track and field dreams I would have never attained.  I finished my career at Northwest (a DII school) as a 15-time national qualifier in five events, a school record holder in the hammer and weight throw, an indoor All-American in the shot put, and two years a team captain.  My bests were: 57'3" in the shot, 169'6" in the discus, 60'4" in the indoor weight throw, 183'9" in the hammer.  I'm amazed at the distances some of my competitors put up while in school (see Mike Pockoski, Bert Sorin, Harrison Bailey III and others).


What was your first Highland Game and when was that?

Kansas City Ethnic Festival - July 04.


Who was at that game?

Sean Betz, Chad Ullom, Scot Campbell, Mike McGee, Nathan, Issac, Emily, and Daryl Burchett, Al Meyers, Steve Scott ... shall I go on!  : )


What made you decide to try and compete at a game?

I first saw it on ESPN; Ryan Vierra, Matt Sanford, Dave Brown, Frances Brebner, and others were duking it out.  I remember telling myself; when I'm done throwing shot and disc one day, I ought to give that a try.  


What is your favorite event?



What is a common mistake you see people make in that event?

In my opinion?  Lack of speed, a very low carry and a jump stop.  Mostly though, it's a lack of speed.


Who were the first people to influence and coach you in the sport?

Scott Campbell and Chad Ullom were huge in my progress as an am.  Al Meyers gave me all the equipment ... for free!  Some guy in his town had a bunch of homemade stuff that he wanted to get rid of; Al really hooked me up.  Sean Betz has probably has the biggest impact.  He's really mentored me in this sport; he was critical in my timing to turn pro, he has helped me into numerous games, thrown with me, coached me, and been a great friend.  


Talk some about throwing games as an amateur, what games you did and where.

Mostly in the Midwest.  All through Missouri, into Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and I went to Louisiana for the North-South games and Pleasanton one year. I also participated in the USA vs. Scotland games in Newtonmore in 07.  Chafin, Sorin, Pockoski; awesome time.  


What were your favorite amateur games?

All!  Pleasanton was a dream come true for me, really.  I remember meeting all the legends that year; Ryan Vierra, Bobby Dodd, Steve Conway, Frances Brebner, David Webster, Dave Barron ... guys I watched on ESPN.  


Talk about some of the pro games you have done and your favorites.

Pleasanton, Celtic, Estes Park, Alaska, Chicago, Dallas, Vegas, the "Claw," Portland ... I can't name all the amazing games I've been to.  It's hard to narrow it down to a favorite; I have so many amazing memories at all of them.  The scenery of Alaska is breathtaking.  The equipment in Chicago is some of the best.  The atmosphere at the Celtic is unmatched.  The history at Pleasanton is enthralling.  


Who do you enjoy competing with and why?

Tough question, again.  I was just talking to my wife about this not too long ago; I've made so many amazing friends through the years, I'm really gonna struggle with being away from them when I finally hang the cleats up.  


Let me mention some names and you comment on them;

Vierra; - the all-time greatest.  He has done more for our sport in America, I believe, than anyone else.  The records, the professionalism ... the best.

Poke - one of my truly best friends.  This guy is one of the kindest and most considerate guys you'll ever meet.  I love throwing with him; he gets me jacked up and he's simply a "gamer."  This guy pulls out the biggest throws in the biggest situations.

Brock; - one of the most athletically gifted throwers we've seen.  One of the few guys who very well could be playing football on Sundays.  Incredible at marketing himself as a thrower; something we all try, but don't have his innate ability to accomplish.

Craig Smith; - hard to believe the never threw track and field.  Many times I've wondered what his numbers would look like had he thrown shot or disc in college.  He's also the closest thing our sport has to a governing body.

KO; - simply the most entertaining pro on the circuit.  The socks, the outlandish "breakdowns' after a bad throw, the crowd-pleasing "curtsy," the face palm and spin move during the sheaf, the spin-to-stand ... I could go on.

Will Barron; - I've only had the pleasure of throwing with Will once.  True sportsman who loves to see big throws from anyone; a lot of good qualities here I try to emulate.   

Betz; - one of the greatest of all-time.  A guy who truly loves the sport and has helped me enormously.  He's got a sick all-around game; when he's caber is on, he's simply unbeatable.  Period.

Harrison; - probably the most athletic thrower America has ever seen.  Just sheer explosion and "pop."  The golden standard for all spinning WOBs.  We all credit him with inventing it ... the reason for that?  Because he's been so dominant at it.  

Chafin; - pure joy to be around.  This guy will give you the shirt off his back if you think that will help.  I love his passion and energy for everything Highland Games.  One of the few men in the world that honestly scare me when he's angry.  

Valenti; - a tough guy to get to know; doesn't let you know much about him.  Deep down though, has a lot of compassion for people.  He will never let people see or know this, but under that tough exterior is a guy who really cares.  


Talk about some of the throws, games and moments you are most proud of.

Celtic last year.  Winning and being named "National Champion" was just plain crazy.  My whole life, I've choked at the big meets, big games and at the worst times.  This last year was the first time that I had it in my hands and didn't throw it away.  I went to six national championships in college and placed only once.  I was always ranked towards the top, but couldn't put it together.  Winning the Celtic was something I never, EVER considered in my mind as a possibility.  And being crowned the IHGF world caber champion last year was one of the greatest moments as well.  To have that title, even for one year, is a great honor.  It took me five games before I even TURNED my first caber, so to come to that point last year at Pleasanton was amazing.  


Talk about training and your philosophy in the area of throwing?

I believe I spent my high school, college and first few years of HG over throwing.  I've scaled it back from throwing five to six days a week, year round, to two to three days and only in season.  I'm finding my body needs rest and my mind needs an escape from it.  


Tell us about some of the injuries you had as an athlete.

Sciatic problems in 06

Bulging disc in 08

Wrist is "messed up."  - my right wrist pops and hurts most all the time.  This, I believe, is from throwing shot for so many years and not taking care of it.  My senior year they did an MRI and said I'd need surgery to fix it.  I opted for a cortisone shot to finish the season, thinking I wouldn't be throwing anything like it again ... now I wish I had gotten surgery.  

God has really blessed me with no knee, ankle or really any other injuries.  We all have pains, but as athletes, we must fight through the aches and muscle strains we encounter; makes it tough at times though.  


What impresses you now in the sport?

The caliber of athletes.  Look at it!  US trials athletes, NFL players, pro strongmen, pro power lifters ... more and more good athletes are taking up this sport, and I think records will continue to fall.


Who makes you laugh at games now?

Anytime I can hang out with everyone.  I love the support and comradarie, and the sheer fun that's had at games.  You make one false step or utter one stupid thing, and you won't live it down all weekend.  This truly is the most fun sport I've ever been a part of.


What are your thoughts on the spin in WOB?  And how it has changed the game?

Honestly, I feel it's two events.  I don't stand, and I may never do it.  I think it has really changed how close a games can be; I think it's made for closer finishes through the years, but that doesn't mean I care for it.  It's whatever; I don't fault guys for doing it, but I love it when a games doesn't allow it!  :   


Have you always pushed hard in the gym or is this a recent thing with you?

Didn't really start hitting it hard until college, but I feel like I learn new things every year; I wish I knew then what I know now.  


What training philosophy do you follow in the gym?

NSCA type stuff; but I've heard my training described as "power bodybuilding."  I don't have the physique to prove it, but I'd say that is accurate.  I like to split up my muscle groups and lift five days a week; chest and tris on Monday, hang cleans and legs on Tuesday, back and bis on Wednesday, shoulders on Thursday, hang snatch and posterior legs on Friday.


When did you start lifting weights and what got you started?

I kind of lifted in middle school - and that was only once a week if I was lucky.  Sports got me started into it, but I didn't get serious about it until college.


What lift is your favorite and what is your best?

My favorite is the bench press, and my best is probably the hang snatch or hang clean.


What do you like to do outside of the games?

Hang out with my family.  I LOVE to play with my boys.  My wife and I have two boys (4 and 2.5 years), and we're expecting twin boys in August 2011.  


What other hobbies do you have?

 I love to hunt and fish, albeit very poorly!

What is your favorite food?




What is a favorite dessert for you?

 Strawberry shortcake or strawberry cheesecake



At your house do you cook on the grille?

 Lots.  I love to grill! 


What supplements do you take?

Kre-Alkalyn (ph buffered creatine)

Isoflex Whey Protein

Xtend (amino acids, but only sometimes)

Waxy Maize starch

Any pre-workout stuff I have (usually what I can get for free or super cheap from my supplement shop sponsor)


What do you drink with a meal at home?

Water usually. Sometimes crystal light.


Do you live in a house, apartment or ?



Talk about meeting your wife.

 I first met her at a campus ministry place in college my sophomore year; she was dating another dude, so I had to wait until he was out of the picture to make my move.  Beautiful woman who 



Tell us about the rest of your family.

My dad is a pastor, my mom a homemaker, my older brother is in Stillwater, OK as an economic developer, my younger brother is in the youth ministry back in Maryville, our oldest boy, Titus, is four, youngest, Mace, is two and a half, and we are expecting twin boys in August.  



When did you find your faith?

I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at age eight.  I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home and we brought up by Bible-believing and God-fearing parents.  I thank them for their amazing provision and direction in my life.  



Tell us about your faith and how you practice this on a weekly basis.

 Jesus died and rose again for me ... and you!  At a young age, I understood my need for a Savior, as I knew I couldn't attain salvation on my own.  I have a daily relationship with my Savior, and I strive to live a life He is proud of.  I try to stay close to Him and His will through daily prayer and Bible reading, and through attending church on a regular basis.  I also host Bible studies at many of the games!  It is truly a pleasure and delight to open the Word and share that time with my friends; my absolute greatest experiences of this sport have involved Jesus.  



Tell us a favorite scripture and why?

 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV translation

This is truly the basis of how I first approached (and strive to today) highland games.  I wanted to do a sport that was more about Him and less about me.  I want to throw, train, compete, speak, share, and live for His glory.  It's easy to lose this mindset in the heat of competition, the joy of victory and the frustration of defeat, but if I can truly keep this at the forefront of my mind, it doesn't matter how I finish.  I'm in this sport for His glory and His work; I want to impact and minister to my competitors, my friends -- this is why God has placed me in this sport.  

Do you like to garden?

Never had one.  Someday, when I can move out to the country and buy some acreage, I'd love to garden (for food only though, no flowers).




Do you mow your own grass or do you have a man?

I mow.  Years of mowing has grown me tired and sour to the idea of mowing ... when my wife isn't pregnant, she loves to mow, so I gladly let her exercise her womanly right to mow.  




Are you a cat or dog person?

Eh ... I used to be both.  Right now I'm neither.  I'm far too busy with my kids to care for an animal.  If I had an absolute choice though, it would be dog.  


Are you a democrat or republican?

Republican - as you can imagine, very conservative.  


Are you into Astrology?  What sign are you?

Nope.  I have no idea.


Talk about some of the music you listen to at different times.

Mostly harder Christian rock. I love to listen to Skillet, Red, Haste the Day, Pillar, We as Human, Decypher Down, etc. when I lift.  


Where do you like to go out to eat?

Any buffet - preferably Chinese


What do you like to watch on TV?

Right now my wife and I are on a Deadliest Catch kick.  We don't have cable, so I don't get to watch much, but we've borrowed the DVD seasons of this super cool show.  


Are you a western movie or sci fi person?  Tell a favorite.

Oh ... both!  I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but also totally dig Westerns like Silverado, Conagher, True Grit, and countless others.


What are the goals for this year?

Selfishly ... the same as anyone else -- Nationals, Worlds, World Caber Champion, and lots of prs!  In terms of the things that really matter, I want to see my fellow competitors grow spiritually.  I know that's not popular to say, but I truly love and care for all these guys, and I want them to grow closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

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