GR brothers lead USA speed skating team

Mike Kooreman, Matt Kooreman
Mike (left) and Matt (right) Kooreman of the U.S. Olympic speedskating team. (Sept. 28, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Speedskating is a passion that runs deep in the Kooreman family.

Pete Kooreman received some attention in 1990 in West Michigan as a local minister with a love for the sport. At the time, he mentioned that he had some children that were interested in it.

That interest has blossomed into lead roles in the U.S. Olympic Team that will be traveling to PyeonChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Matt Kooreman is the head coach of the U.S. long track team.

“It’s a complete honor to represent Team U.S.A.,” he said.

His brother, Mike, will be joining him on the trip as a team leader.

“I think just that passion that (his father) had for the sport really kind of carried over,” Matt Kooreman said.

His brother make shared the same sentiment.

“One hundred percent it was always a supportive, nurturing thing,” Mike Kooreman said.

Although Matt Kooreman has turned into an important figure for American speedskating, it took some nurturing to continue to get him to put on the blades.

While he always loved to skate, he had a bit of an issue with the wardrobe.

“When you’re learning and you’re in tights, you look silly and you’re in tights,” he said. “Not the best combination.”

However, a thirst for competition and some early success helped him get over the hurdle of self-consciousness.

Now that he is a coach, he is tasked with getting his athletes over the hurdles they face.

“Really what I do, I think, is more (like a) sports psychologist than anything else,” Matt Kooreman said.

The brothers are very close and treasure the opportunity to share this moment each other other.

“It’s awesome that Mike’s there,” Matt Kooreman said. “I’ve counted on him for advice through the years as I’ve started coaching on this team and even years before coaching on different levels. When times are a little stressful and people aren’t performing, he’s there for me as my brother but also on a professional level. It’s kind of a cool combination I get to have.”