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Bullying motivated this country star to excel on the field and on the stage

This story originally aired on November 22, 2019. 

At first glance, “hidden” is not the word you’d use for Chance McKinney’s talents. As an athlete in high school and college, he got plenty of recognition. 

“I got a track scholarship to throw (javelin), and went to a Pac-12 school...I mean I kept qualifying for the Olympic trials,” said McKinney.

But this very capable guy has a whole other set of gifts that weren’t so obvious. They emerged years later, when he was teaching high school math in Mukilteo. 

On a whim, he’d submitted an original song to a music contest. And somehow, to his shock, McKinney’s country song blew up. 

“I’m sitting there, in a math class, with ABC television, and radio stations, and newspapers and everybody...and my kids from that class, finding out that I had a No. 1 on CMT," he said. "I had no band, no nothing. It was just 'here I am, Chance McKinney, number one unsigned singer songwriter.'”

Chance is now a successful, full-time country musician. But his motivation to achieve, both in sports and in music, comes largely from being bullied as a child. 

Listen to the story to hear how Chance fought through that bulling, and how he reflects on that time of his life today.

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.