Embracing His Heritage—And Competing For a World Title

What started as a surprise birthday present has turned into a record-breaking, world-class competition for one Chandler resident. Andrew McCreery, whose genealogy traces back to one of the original Scottish clans, has always identified with his heritage “and all things Scottish.” For his 50th birthday, his wife and sisters conspired to surprise him with a family kilt and a registration to compete in the Portland Highland Games, a sporting event of strength and brawn that dates back more than a thousand years.

At the games, competitors throw heavy boulders, hammers, bales of hay, and the infamous caber (a 19-foot wooden pole that weighs more than 100 pounds and which must be tossed end-over-end to qualify).

Although being Scottish isn’t a requirement to play, wearing a kilt is. So when McCreery opened his gift that fateful birthday, he was thrilled to finally own his family kilt. He laughed at the idea of wearing it at the next day’s Highland Games, thinking he’d look authentic as a spectator. Behind the scenes though, his new team of gamers was preparing for the newbie to join them in the Master’s Class (men aged 50-55). 

Without any training, and nothing but team spirit and blind optimism, McCreery entered the first event of the day, The Portland Stone, where a 97-pound river rock is thrown—and the farthest distance wins. With a little fear and a lot of excitement, he threw that stone shot-put style almost over 14 feet, and broke the Oregon state record that had been in place for 11 years!

McCreery has now spent the last two years competing in games around Arizona and Oregon. In March, at the Phoenix Highland Games, he qualified to compete in the World Master’s Championship. Now, this month, he will compete in Stuttgart, Germany, alongside world-class champions, in a battle for the world title!