Grand Rapids, Michigan – As an aspiring journalist, Steve Kaminsky spent a whole month tinkering with his first article.
But it wasn’t long before he was a regular on the high school sports scene as he pumped his pistons, his engines roared, his tires burned, and he shared his passion for auto racing with readers.
“When I open the paper and see another article by Steve Kaminsky, I just gloat,” said his father, Robert Kaminsky. “Sometimes he was writing four or five stories in his day…he just rattled them off right away.”
Kaminski, a longtime writer for The Grand Rapids Press and MLive and an iconic figure in Western Michigan’s auto racing world, died Monday at the age of 56. His father said Steve had no known major health problems. he had a stroke.
He left behind his wife Kristen, 21-year-old daughter Noel, 17-year-old son Eli, and the many devoted readers he has entertained and informed in his nearly 40 years of writing. rice field.
MLive Sports Director Bryn Mickle said: “He was a true professional.”
Kaminski began journalism as a sophomore at Grand Rapids Creston High School, participating in a student program sponsored by the Grand Rapids Press. His father said he perused his first story with his English teacher and got it right.
While attending Grand Valley State University, Kaminski began working as a press stringer, spending part of his 50 years writing articles for local newspapers.
“He was sitting in the kitchen, after breakfast, on the phone until 1:00 a.m.,” says Robert Kaminski. “I told him, ‘Put this bag down and leave the house.’ You have the phone in your ear all day!”
“He would usually get up and do something and then come right back. But that was his passion. He just loved to write.”
Since 2012, Kaminski has been at the helm of the MLive Grand Rapids high school sports beat, covering 53 sprawling school areas almost single-handedly. With a constant stream of state champions and title contenders in nearly every sport, having a writer at the top of his game was essential.
“It’s always been great interacting with Steve,” said Todd Colster, football coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central. “He was always trying to access a billion different locations to cover as many kids and high schools as possible. did
“He was very honest and very accurate in his reporting.
Kaminski has created his true niche as an auto racing reporter. A sports guru on the MLive staff, he was able to cram his file with his NASCAR and his IndyCar marquee stories of his events. But it was his local track races, particularly the Berlin Raceway at the Marne, that really revitalized his engine.
“He once said he was sent to cover a big race. “It became more than a job for him, it became a passion,” said Matt McKenzie, an auto racing broadcaster who worked with Kaminski on the Berlin Raceway Hall of Fame committee.
“Berlin became his de facto home, race fans and teams were loyal to him and looked up to him. You became part of it, you became part of the fabric.”
Berlin Raceway general manager Jeff Striegle said it wasn’t Kaminski’s first arrival on race night. He could be found chatting with drivers and race teams in the pits – and always knew what winning meant for each of them.
“He understood that this sport is really about the drivers and the people involved,” Striegle said. “On Saturday he has 100 drivers here and he wanted to get to know these drivers and his members of the team for himself and try to understand why they came to be in this sport.
“He was a true fighter in auto racing. He believed in it and wanted it to go mainstream and worked to make it happen at the local and national level. I wanted to spread the word that people needed to know about the driver who called West Michigan home.
“Not only have we lost a true professional, we have lost a true friend in the sport, a true friend in the track.”
Among his colleagues, Kaminski was known for his outspoken style and calm personality. He was a church deacon and enjoyed baseball, his strip of Peanuts comics, and time with his family. His son, Eli, was often by his side at sporting events while growing up and recently joined his father in an official capacity as a freelance photographer.
“Everyone liked Steve because he liked him so easily,” said Pete Wallner, a former colleague of The Press. “I used to joke with him that he was too business friendly. But he was always aware of the human element of the story and was a compassionate writer.”
“There was no one better than Steve,” said MLive photographer Joel Bissell, who has worked with Kaminski a lot since 2014. If it rains, winds, or snows at a football game, or it’s summer heat for two days, he’s there to talk as much as he can, making western high school sports a big part of his community. made an impact. Michigan. ”
In addition to his wife and children, Kaminsky is survived by his father and stepmother, Robert and Kathleen Kaminsky, brother Robert Kaminsky Jr. and sister Melissa Donovan. Predated by Kaminsky.
Steve Kaminsky’s visitation will be on Thursday (5-8pm) at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home and his funeral will be on Friday (11am) at Messiah Lutheran Church.
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