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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Maryville native uses games for ministry

  • Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at just under 300 pounds, Maryville native Daniel McKim cuts an imposing figure.
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  • Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at just under 300 pounds, Maryville native Daniel McKim cuts an imposing figure.
    And that's before you see him toss a 19-foot, 6-inch 175-pound wooden pole called a caber, making it look like a piece of straw.
    McKim, a 2000 graduate of Maryville High School, regularly competes in the Scottish Highland Games, a competition that combines several events dating back to medieval Scotland.
    He hesitates to admit it, but he's good at what he does.
    A three-time national champion, and the 2011 world champion in the games, McKim is among the best in his sport.
    But that's not where his priorities lie. The son of the Rev. Paul McKim of Laura Street Baptist Church in Maryville, the younger McKim uses his athletic skills to share his Christian faith.
    "The best part is the ministry opportunities I have," McKim said. "It also helps support my family, and (then there are) the people I get to meet and talk to. It's just really a great opportunity to spread the Word."
    Wearing a shirt that simply says "Believe," McKim throws stones, weights and the caber further than many people could carry them.
    McKim was an All-State track and field competitor at MHS. He also achieved All-American status in shot-put at Northwest Missouri State University.
    In college, he was a national qualifier in every event he participated in and set Northwest school records in the indoor weight throw and hammer throw.
    At some point during his last year at Northwest, McKim happened to catch a Scottish Highland Games competition on TV.
    "I just thought, 'that looks fun, I want to try it,'" McKim said. "So I did some research and found places in Kansas City to compete."
    So 2004 marked the beginning of McKim's Highland Games career, one that would take him places he never thought he would go.
    McKim worked his way up through the amateur rankings after competing in various events throughout the United States and Canada.
    Then, in 2007, McKim became the highest-ranked amateur in the world. He traveled to Scotland with the United States' top amateurs to compete against Scotland's top amateurs. The U.S. team came away with a victory.
    "It was amazing, being where it all started," McKim said. "The history of the Games, it was all there. It was an honor."
    After that win, McKim decided to take the Highland Games to the next level and become a professional.
    With the support of his wife, Natalie, McKim travels quite a few weekends a year to compete. The couple now have four sons, Titus, Mace, and twins Silas and Atticus, and live in the Kansas City area.
    The Highland Games typically consist of eight separate events. The first is the 16-pound open stone (for distance), which is similar to the shot put.
    Page 2 of 2 - Then there is a 22-pound Braemar stone, also thrown for distance. Competitors also throw 28- and 56-pound weights for distance.
    The 16- and 22-pound hammer throw for distance is not even the end of the weight events. But it is perhaps the most interesting.
    Competitors use blades attached to their boots to secure their feet into the ground. This allows the thrower to use his full body without shifting.
    In a recent demonstration in Maryville, McKim showed off his homemade boots. He placed lawnmower blades into the toe end of the soles to dig into the ground and plant his feet firmly.
    Competitors throw the 56-pound weight over a bar, similar to those used in the high-jump or pole-vault in track. From a standing position, the weight is launched from between the legs straight up and over the bar. McKim advises novices to get out of the way immediately after the throw.
    At the demonstration, McKim showed an event that isn't part of standard Highland competitions but has been added to the Games by Americans.
    The sheaf toss involves a bundle of straw that weighs roughly 20 bounds wrapped in a burlap bag. Competitors use a pitchfork to toss the sheaf over a bar in the same manner as the weight toss.
    The final, and possibly most recognizable, event of the Games is the caber toss.
    The pole is raised vertically for the competitor to pick up by the thick end. The thrower then takes a running start before launching the caber.
    This event is not based on distance or height, but position. The goal is to get the caber to flip once, end over end, and land in a certain position relative to the hour hand on a clock.
    A perfect throw would leave the pole at 12 o'clock compared to where the thrower launched it. For example, on an imaginary clock, 11:30 would give a better score than 11, since the caber's angle is closer to 12.
    McKim holds North American records in hammer throws and is one of only eight people in the long history of the sport to throw the 56-pound weight more than 18 feet in the air.
    He takes his Christian message with him to events and also shares his faith, along with an anti-drug message, at schools and during personal appearances.
    "It has been a great chance that God has given me to speak to groups," McKim said. "I don't do it as often as I'd like, but it is great to talk about the importance of being drug-free and having a close relationship with Jesus."
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