Western Wayne Olympic Medalist Set to Return Home this Spring

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From Western Wayne soccer fields and wrestling mats to the mountains in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. Wayne County native and Western Wayne alumni Mike Minor has accomplished a lot at 28.  Mike won a bronze medal in the Snowboard-cross event and a gold medal in the Banked Slalom event at the 2018 Paralympic Games this March.

Mike, a 2008 Western Wayne graduate, moved to Colorado about four years ago to pursue his dream of professional snowboarding.  Later, Adaptive Action Sports discovered Mike’s talents when he was working at Copper Mountain and started working with him.  Once being discovered, he pushed even harder with his Olympic training.

Mike’s family including his sister Mallory Minor, another Western Wayne Alumni, are extremely proud and excited about all of his accomplishments. Mallory confirms that Mike will be the parade Marshall at the Waymart Pride and Patriotism parade on June 9.  She also confirms that Mike has agreed to speak to Western Wayne Students at their annual end of year sports banquet.

Western Wayne Administration and staff are also very proud of Mike’s accomplishments and look forward to welcoming him back to the area to share his stories and encourage others this June.

Mike’s former guidance counselor Renee Chernin feels very proud of his incredible accomplishments at the Olympics.

She explained how Mike was the Keynote Speaker at a county-wide Transition Expo held this past October at Ladore Conference Center. The Transition Expo is designed to help students successfully transition from high school to college or work.

There are three focusses of the conference: post-secondary education, employment, and independent living. Area agencies, service providers, colleges and employers are there to provide students with information.

Chernin explained how Mike’s presentation that day fit in perfectly with the purpose of the event.  She said Mike’s speech captivated all of the Western Wayne students in attendance.

“Mike spoke about overcoming physical limitations and believing in oneself despite naysayers.  He discussed how having a goal can change your life,” Chernin explained.  “The students were inspired to see someone from our hometown travel the world to follow his dream.  They were given photo opportunities and an autographed picture as mementos.”

Chernin is glad the students had the chance to get to know Mike, who was born missing his right forearm, before his Olympic experience.  She believes Mike inspired the students in the fall and feels these students are even more so motivated to go after their life goals after seeing someone so similar to them achieve his dreams.

“Mike was a typical high school student,” Chernin said.  “He sometimes struggled academically with meeting deadlines.  However, he has a magnetic personality and is a person who likes to have fun and be the center of attention.  Mike enjoyed the thrill of sports and competition in high school.  He self-accommodated and excelled in all sports and physical activities.  For example, Mike was a skilled wrestler.  He could pin an opponent within seconds, with one arm.  Mike never needed help from anyone and would not take help if offered.”

Mike’s former Western Wayne soccer coach Matt Fitzsimmons agrees with Chernin about Mike’s strongest qualities as a student and athlete at Western Wayne.

“Mike was always a tough kid and a kid that gave his all on everything,” Fitzsimmons explained.  “His hustle and determination was never questioned.  I truly believe his work athleticism and work ethic translated into his medal winning performance.”

Fitzsimmons explained how he very much enjoyed working with Mike when he played forward and midfielder positions on the Western Wayne Soccer team.

“When I think of Mike in soccer, what I picture is a kid hustling his butt off, taking hits, bouncing right back up and going even harder,” Fitzsimmons recalls.  “I always joked that he was made of rubber because he would bounce off people, the ground, get hit, roll, but just keep moving.”

This imagine correlates with Mike’s continuing successful journey as a snowboarder.  He already is focused on training for the 2022 Paralympic games in Beijing.  Luckily, for Western Wayne students, Mike has agreed to return home later this spring to speak at Western Wayne’s Annual end of year sports banquet.

Fitzsimmons looks forward to seeing Mike again in person so he can congratulate him.

“I am very proud of him and think it is awesome what he has done,” Fitzsimmons said.  “To say that I coached an Olympic Gold Medalist is humbling.”

Everyone at the Western Wayne School District also is incredibly happy for Mike and look forward to his return home to celebrate all of his successes with him and his family.


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