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Programed for Success: Union/A-C Valley’s Kaiden McNany Moves People on Football Field, Robots Off of It

FOXBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Kaiden McNany is a self-proclaimed nerd.

(Above, Kaiden McNany playing center for Union/A-C Valley against Smethport in the playoffs)

He is a huge fan of Star Wars and Marvel.

“And I play an unhealthy amount of video games,” he says.

McNany’s geekdom, though, frequently comes in handy as a member of a robotics team.

When he not moving people off the line of scrimmage as an offensive lineman for the Union/A-C Valley football team, McNany is building robots capable of doing some remarkable things.

McNany and his team compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Teams from around the country made up of high school students have six weeks to build robots that can complete tasks such as scoring goals, balancing on beams and placing items on racks.

“I went to a bunch of robotics camps when I was in elementary school,” McNany said. “From there, I just kind of got more and more interested until I was able to start building big robots. I’m really big part of my team as a driver.”

McNany controls the robot via computer.

“It’s all about teamwork,” McNany said.

So is playing on the offensive line.

McNany hopes to help Union/A-C Valley, which went 9-3 and reached the District 9 Class A championship game last season, go even farther in 2022.

“My biggest goal currently is to win the district championship in football,” McNany said. “We came so close last year, and I don’t feel like reliving that experience.”

McNany got some of his passion for sports from his older sister, Lauren and Cami.

Both were standouts at A-C Valley on the softball field and both have moved on to star for their college teams.

Kaiden said the shadow his successful sisters cast was long.

“Cami and Lauren were really good influences on me,” McNany said. “They really pushed me to get out of that shadow.”

THE McNANY FILE

NAME: Kaiden McNany

YEAR: Junior

SPORTS: Football and track and field

2021-22 HIGHLIGHTS: Played on the offensive line for the Union/A-C Valley football team, helping the Falcon Knights reach the District 9 Class A championship game.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while playing sports?

A: Hard work pays off. This has been proven to me time and time again. Whether it’s on the football field, where I grinded throughout the season to become a starter right before playoffs, to track, where I was never a threat to win, but improved greatly. This lesson is truly valuable to me, though, because I can tell I’m applying it to other parts of my life, not just sports.

Q: How so?

A: Like my robotics team. Or when I’m out on the racetrack with my quad. Hard work truly pays off and I’m slowly learning that.

Q: What’s your pregame routine?

A: This might sound strange, but before every football game, I blast music and punch a wall for a few second with my gloves on.

Q: Isn’t that hard on your hands?

A: Honestly, it’s not hard at all because they’re padded.

Q: How long have you been doing that?

A: Since my eighth-grade year. It pumps me up and calms me down because I know punching that wall is gonna hurt more than anything out on that field.

Q: What do you do to handle a loss?

A: No one likes losing and I’m in that group especially. The best way in my opinion is to brush it off, find your mistakes, hone in on them, and work had to fix the mistakes.

Q: Who is your biggest sports role model and why?

A: Larry Fitzgerald because through it all he never forgot his hometown. He’s also very charitable. The Larry Fitzgerald Foundation is a charity derived to help cancer research — the disease that took Larry’s mother’s life. He also stayed humble through his whole career, never having a bad word for anyone and staying loyal to the Cardinals. He is my biggest role model, not just in sports, but in life.

Q: Who would play you in a movie or TV show about your life and why would he be the perfect choice?

A: Gabriel Iglesias. You may not know who he is, but he is a comedian who takes up acting. He’s a larger fellow like me who is funny and has a similar sense of humor to me.



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