Steve Kaminski carved his niche as hometown sports writer, auto racing icon

Shirley Beal

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – As an aspiring journalist, Steve Kaminski spent a comprehensive thirty day period tinkering with his very first story.

But it was not lengthy prior to he turned a piston-pumping, motor-roaring, tire-burning composing device, sharing his enthusiasm for car racing with readers even though also getting a fixture on the substantial school sports scene.

“I would just beam when I’d open the paper and see yet another posting by Steve Kaminski,” claimed his father, Robert Kaminski. “Sometimes he’d write four or five stories in one particular day … he just rattles them ideal off.”

An iconic determine in West Michigan auto racing circles as a longtime author for The Grand Rapids Push and MLive, Kaminski died Monday at age 56. His father claimed Steve had no recognised key health and fitness difficulties, and that the household suspects he experienced a coronary heart attack or stroke.

He leaves driving wife Kristen, 21-yr-aged daughter Noelle, 17-calendar year-previous son Eli and a legion of avid audience who he entertained and informed in the course of his approximately 40-year writing career.

“The treatment and commitment that Steve had for the athletes and local community he covered shone as a result of each individual day in his perform,” claimed Bryn Mickle, director of sports for MLive. “He was a accurate professional.”

Kaminski bought his start off in journalism as a sophomore at Grand Rapids Creston Superior University, using aspect in a pupil plan hosted by The Grand Rapids Press. His father explained he pored more than that first tale with his English trainer for a month to get it just proper.

While attending Grand Valley Condition College, Kaminski began operating as a stringer for The Press and would spend component of 5 many years cranking out tales for his hometown newspaper.

“He would sit in the kitchen area and be on the mobile phone from the time he was done with breakfast right up until 1 o’clock in the morning,” Robert Kaminski said. “I’d tell him ‘Put this stuff down and get out of the property. You have bought that telephone trapped in your ear all day extended!’

“He’d typically get up and do some thing — then he’d be correct back again at it. But that was his enthusiasm. He just cherished to generate.”

Given that 2012, Kaminski has been at the helm of the high faculty sports activities beat for MLive Grand Rapids, approximately one-handedly covering a large 53-college spot. With a constant stream of condition champions and title contenders in approximately just about every activity, it was crucial to have a writer at the top rated of his match.

Steve Kaminski

Sporting activities writer Steve Kaminski and son Eli, daughter Noelle and spouse Kristen used loads of family members time at automobile racing tracks. (Courtesy)

“My interactions with Steve had been generally good,” claimed Todd Kolster, football coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central. “He was normally hoping to get to a billion diverse locations to include as lots of young children and high universities as feasible. I know it was a ton of perform, and he did a wonderful task with it.

“He experienced wonderful integrity and was quite accurate in his reporting – and that’s a large deal. It develops have confidence in. Coaches and children felt like they could chat to him.”

Kaminski established his genuine niche as an automobile racing reporter. The foremost qualified on the sport on the MLive workers, he could pack his clip file with stories from the marquee gatherings of NASCAR and IndyCar. But it was area-monitor racing — significantly Berlin Raceway in Marne — that really revved his motor.

“He the moment stated that he was sent to address a significant race. When he got in there, acquired the feel of the location, the scent of the spot, the glimpse of the put, he was hooked,” reported Matt McKenzie, an automobile racing broadcaster who labored alongside Kaminski on the Berlin Raceway Corridor of Fame committee. “It turned way much more than a occupation for him, it became a passion.

“Berlin grew to become his de facto household, and the race followers and teams have been loyal to him and revered him – and it was mutual the two techniques. Racing is a household-oriented activity and Steve became element of the family members and part of the cloth.”

Jeff Striegle, common supervisor of Berlin Raceway, reported it was a scarce race night when Kaminski wasn’t amid the first to get there. He could be uncovered in the pits, chatting with the drivers and race groups – and always knew what a gain would mean to each and just about every a single of them.

“He comprehended this activity truly is about the motorists and the people today associated,” Striegle mentioned. “We have 100 motorists below on any given Saturday, and he took it on himself to know these drivers and crew users and realize what drove them to be section of this activity.

“He was a accurate fighter for auto racing. He thought in it, he wanted it to be mainstream and he labored to make it transpire at the community and nationwide level. He did it because he wished this activity to grow and he needed to get tales out that people today needed to know about motorists who named West Michigan house.

“We not only lost a accurate professional, we dropped a correct friend to the activity and a real friend to the monitor.”

Steve Kaminski

MLive athletics writer Steve Kaminski chats with substantial university football players for the duration of the 2018 MLive Media Day. (Joel Bissell |

Between colleagues, Kaminski was identified for his straight-ahead design but gentle character. He was a deacon at his church who savored baseball, Peanuts comedian strips and household time. His son, Eli, was frequently at his aspect at sporting gatherings whilst growing up and lately joined his father in an official capacity as a freelance photographer.

“Everybody favored Steve mainly because Steve was so quick to like,” explained Pete Wallner, a former co-worker at The Push. “I’d joke with him and say he was also great for the enterprise. That should not be puzzled with a lack of willpower or competitiveness. He experienced individuals features, much too. But he constantly regarded the human factor of the tales and was a caring author.”

“There was no a person nicer than Steve,” claimed Joel Bissell, an MLive photographer who covered a lot of assignments together with Kaminski because 2014. “He often had a beneficial and encouraging mindset, no make any difference what. If it was driving rain and wind or snow at a football activity or the warmth of summer masking two-a-times, he was out there to convey to as a lot of tales as he could, earning a substantial influence on the substantial faculty sports activities community in West Michigan.”

In addition to his spouse and young children, Kaminski is survived by his father and phase-mother, Robert and Kathleen Kaminski, brother Robert Kaminski Jr. and sister Melissa Donovan. He was predeceased by his mother, Josephine Kaminski.

Visitation for Steve Kaminski is scheduled for Thursday (5-8 p.m.) at Heritage Everyday living Tale Funeral Residence, with the funeral assistance Friday (11 a.m.) at Messiah Lutheran Church.

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