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Openly gay MSNBC star Rachel Maddow was 3-sport high school athlete

Maddow will be all over our screens on Election Night. In high school, she was scouted for an athletic scholarship.

Today - Season 68
Rachel Maddow is the queen of NBC’s Election Night coverage.
Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Rachel Maddow is one of the unabashed stars of TV news. But growing up, the openly gay anchor was a star on the the court and in the swimming pool.

Maddow will help lead MSNBC’s election coverage Tuesday, as she has for the previous decade. Her profile has never been bigger, with “The Rachel Maddow Show” delivering record ratings during Donald Trump’s presidency (her July sit-down interview with Trump’s niece, Mary, was the highest-rated scheduled show in MSNBC history).

With a quick wit and deep-seated historical knowledge, Maddow usually enraptures audiences with long-form monologues at the start of each program, and specializes in breaking down convoluted topics with digestible ease.

She’s the best college lecturer you never had.

Maddow’s captivating presentation makes her an enticing subject for magazine feature writers and interviewers. Over the years, Maddow, who attended Stanford University and publicly came out as a freshman in the student paper, has spoken extensively about her love of sports.

As a high school student in California, Maddow was a three-sport athlete: volleyball, basketball and swimming. She was scouted by a number of schools for an athletic scholarship, but badly injured her shoulder playing volleyball in her senior year.

Maddow didn’t opt for surgery, because the rehabilitation process would’ve meant starting college a year later. She says her shoulder worked fine for regular activities, and she couldn’t wait to go to college.

Around this time, Maddow started to realize she was gay.

“I was coming out to myself,” Maddow told the New Yorker in 2017. “And, having grown up in this conservative town in the Bay Area with my relatively conservative Catholic parents, I knew this was not a place I wanted to be a gay person in.”

Maddow cut her teeth in local radio out in Western Massachusetts before becoming a national talk show host with the progressive Air America network.

In September 2008, Maddow migrated to MSNBC, where the “Rachel Maddow Show” was born.

Maddow loves the outdoors, and doesn’t own a television at home. She once told Howard Stern fishing is one of her favorite activities, because it allows her mind to let go.

“It’s just hard enough that you have to think about it while you do it,” Maddow said. “You can’t let your mind wander and start working on tomorrow’s news meeting. You have to focus on what you’re doing, because you’ll stick a hook through your hand, or something.”

Even if you disagree with Maddow’s politics, there’s little doubting her gusto for the job. With more than 90 million Americans voting before Election Day, the count will probably last all night, and well into the week.

And Maddow will be there, intricately breaking down every down every county alongside fellow openly gay election analyst — and sports fan — Steve Kornacki.

Mike Del Moro, a booking producer for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” is also openly gay and shared his story as an out college swimmer earlier this year.

Over the last four years, Maddow has been a constant presence on my TV, and helped me understand the never-ending avalanche of news that’s flowed out of Washington. I’m proud to say Election Night will be no different.