By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.–You can say that it’s been the best week ever for Peter McKinley with some big things coming his way when he was notified that he won the Marine Corps. MaxPreps Athlete of the Month award for the month of January back on January 10.
The senior and his family couldn’t believe that he was nominated and won the exclusive award that only one male and one female athlete is awarded every month for their bravery, dedication, perseverance, personal sacrifice and being a positive influence in their community.
“I’m feeling really just honored and surprised,” said McKinley. “Being just a little guy from Gervais it’s pretty incredible to win a award that’s picked nationally. So over all I’m just feeling blessed and honored and it really shows that hard work pays off in all ways.”
“We were in shock at first,” said father Randall McKinley. “Then the excitement was that we wanted to tell everyone we could.”
And they did, including Karie Kelley, who was McKinley’s FFA Advisor for his freshman through junior years before she moved to La Grande as she knows that McKinley has represented Gervais well with what the FFA preaches in
“He works hard and sets his goals high,” said Kelley. “Peter was our FFA president, and I worked with him over the summer on FFA work crews. I could count on Peter for always lending a hand, and he was a hard worker. He is the type of kid that once he get something in his head, he is going to do it. I think he is will also represent Gervais well.
“Peter has not always had the easiest life, but he always manages to make the best out of everyone.”
McKinley still holds the FFA President Title to this day, but McKinley had one of the toughest routes to get to where he is at today. These personal hurdles gave McKinley a challenge to face those adversity, to either face it like a athlete or as a leader as he his for the FFA Gervais Chapter or crumble.
He chose to do the former, and he has remained humbled through it all as he faced, and succeeded as he used the adversity as fuel for him to drive for something better.
“I was always told I couldn’t do something so every obstacle I over came there was still something someone was telling me I couldn’t do,” starts McKinley. “At first it was that I would never talk, then it was I’d never be a good athlete, or a good student and stuff so I just always kept pushing through with that attitude to prove everyone wrong and now that’s just how I am.
“A lot of people find me a little cocky but I view it as I believe I can do anything if I work hard enough. I take each day one at a time and try to conquered every challenge that comes that day. Whether it be extra reps or winning a game, sometimes it’s getting a good grade. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t but theirs always something to be working for and even though I don’t always know what is I know there’s gonna be something.”
Whether it was athletics or not, McKinley, made the use of this adversity to his advantage and turned them into a positive as he battled to where he is at today.
When he wasn’t playing football or wrestling, the senior was donating his time to the community he loves. 900 hours, all in general or with the FFA Chapter, McKinley expresses his love for his community.
“I have well over 900 hours of community service (I’m proud of that number) and it’s all to helping this community be a better place and to get an award to bring back to a place I’ve been working so hard in improving really means a lot to me,” said McKinley.
“I love this little city, many people may try to talk bad about it but has given me so many opportunities. It may or be the best city but it’s my city and I am proud to say I come to it. There’s a reason I fought to stay here for my senior year and a reason why I drive 30 minutes to school everyday.”
You see this love for his school, this community, this city, in everything he does; and as he continues to leads on-and-off the field.
“Peter is an athlete, and as an athlete, he has to be able to communicate and articulate his feelings/thoughts,” said Kelley. “I believe he has learned how to be an effective communicator and leader through FFA and his experiences. Peter has in turn shared his experience with others and has helped others join FFA to share the same experiences.”
As the senior continues down the road he is on, he keeps defining the odds as he continues to lead those around him.
FOUR WEEKS LATER
The excitement is still there for the senior a few weeks after being award the Marine Corps Athlete of the Month award as McKinley allowed it some time to settle in as the ceremony is set for February 10 at 11:30am in the Gervais High School Gym.
“It’s incredible,” said McKinley. “It’s weird for a little kid from Gervais to win something at such a big scale so really just incredible and just enjoying every moment of it.”
Recently, he had an featured video done on him by MaxPreps as the media body followed the senior around for a day, featuring what he did on a normal basis.
It was something to get accustomed to said McKinley.
“It was really weird at first, but after a few hours it was really just cool,” he said. “I had to redo some stuff, like walk out of the locker room or put my tie on a bunch of times, and I had to watch my language a little but for the most part it was really just an amazing experience.”
Once the date was set for his big ceremony to be recongized for his accomplishment, it allowed the senior to mentally prepare for the big day as for a big wrestling match or a busy day with the FFA.
“I’m extremely excited about it, I’ve had like four weeks now to get it through my head that I won but I’m pretty much just accepted it now and I’m ready to for the ceremony,” said McKinley.
As always, the Big Senior from the Little Town of Gervais has always found a way to be ready for what’s next.
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