Royals fan and KC native John Coughlin pursues Olympic dream
Kansas City native and devoted Royals fan John Coughlin (
@JohnCoughlinUSA on Twitter) skated at the now-closed Ice Chateau before moving on to Pepsi Ice Midwest at 135th and Quivira.
Coughlin and pairs partner Caydee Denney will compete at next month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston with an opportunity to land on the Olympic team.
Coughlin and Denney have a comprehensive training program in the interim. The pair get to the rink in Colorado Springs at 10 a.m., and on cold days, it’s earlier as they warm up with a heated yoga class. “It’s 27 degrees here today so you have to do something to get your body going,” said Coughlin.
A normal day begins with an hour of off-ice warm-up, where they work on the various lifts and go through the program’s choreography. Next up is an hour and a half of on-ice training, followed by another 45-minute session in the afternoon. They fit in a cross-fit style workout with fellow skaters and finish with sports medicine appointments and physical therapy so they’ll be ready to start over the next day!
This grueling schedule keeps Coughlin away from office work at the Olympic Training Center during an Olympic year. However, he does find some time to keep up with his hometown Royals.
“I watch the games when I can,” said Coughlin. “It’s tough when we’re overseas. I’ll watch the live gamecasts. I’m a Sportscenter nut. It’s been nice since I started following the Royals on Twitter. You get updates, not just on the games, but on the personnel moves.”
Coughlin watches those personnel moves closely and offered this synopsis:
“It has been exciting the last couple of years…it’s nice to see some of the people that we’ve cultivated
from the farm system start to pay big dividends on the field, as well as some of the big pitching moves in the last year.”
His favorite current players include Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and James Shields. Coughlin believes Perez will be an All-Star for a long time. As for Shields, “He came in and changed the mentality. He was used to winning in Tampa Bay. He’s a workhorse and he’s proud of putting up 200+ innings every year. To bring that mentality to the Royals staff, I think was a huge factor in their success.”
Coughlin’s passion for his hometown team started at an early age, when he watched George Brett, who ranks with Mike Sweeney as his all-time favorite players.
John’s father, Mike, was a KCMO policeman who once worked Royals games as an off-duty job. He worked at the stadium in 1985, the same year that he was shot while on his regular patrol. The Royals heard about the incident and the entire World Series team signed a baseball for Mike, which John has in his possession and remembers fondly.
John loves to get to Royals games and would like to go to the home opener every year:
“When I was growing up, it was a tradition to not go to school on Opening Day. My Dad didn’t make any pretenses about why he was pulling his son out of school…it was because we were going to Opening Day.”
For now, the focus remains qualifying for the Olympics. “Hopefully we qualify…It’s going to be incredible to represent the United States and the towns that we grew up in. Caydee is from Florida and I lived in Kansas City from birth to almost 20 years old so Kansas City will be always be home to me. It will be a special moment to be able to do that.”
And as for Coughlin’s post-Olympic goals?
“It all depends on how this season plays out. Hopefully we’re on the Olympic team and doing well, possibly medalists. If that happens, there will be some doors that will open…skating professionally, doing commentary, teaching seminars. As far as life after skating, I’d like to stay involved in some way.”
Another possibility is being a policeman, like his father and grandfather. “If I were to do that, it would definitely be in Kansas City, because that’s where we have the legacy,” said Coughlin.
And in Kansas City, his Opening Day tradition could continue…
PHOTOS: Courtesy of NBC Olympics/USOC