New Jersey Product Kops Brings Smarts, Skills to USPHL Kalkaska

Corey Kops comes from a sports family and he’ll bring his hockey talents to the Kalkaska Rhinos this fall.

His younger sister, Hailey, is a professional pairs figure skater and represents Israel. Her team finished in 10th place at Junior Worlds in Taiwan this past March. She just turned 15 and is now old enough to be a senior skater.

Max, 17, currently plays soccer for TSF Academy in New Jersey and his team is ranked fourth in the state and 15th in the country. He will be finishing his senior high school requirements and will turn 18 in February. He will then be going to Barcelona to play soccer overseas.

Evan is 12 and a soccer player for West Orange United and TSF and nine-year-old Ty is a soccer player for West Orange United.

Add to those facts that Corey’s father, Steve, grew up playing hockey in Philadelphia and his mother, Lisa, is a skating coach at South Mountain Arena in West Orange, N.J., and it’s easy to understand where Corey gets his talent from.

“All of my siblings started skating at an early age with my mother working at the rink,” said Kops. “My mother would bring me to work with her and I started skating at three. All of my family members have their own unique athletic aspirations. Being in a family that are all athletes creates the atmosphere of competition, but more importantly, focus, passion and determination. Watching all of my siblings pursue their own aspirations motivates me to stay focused on mine. All of us help one another with training, eating healthy and staying on track with our training.”

Now 20, Kops played for the New Jersey Devils Youth Program and the New Jersey Wolves growing up in New Jersey, where he became acquainted with Rhinos coach-GM Krzysztof Oliwa as a youngster while Oliwa was playing in the NHL.

After high school, Kops traveled overseas to Israel (the family is of Jewish background) to study and play hockey. When Kops returned from overseas, he trained with the Montclair State University hockey team. He was accepted at MSU this year and placed on the MSU team, but decided instead to take an additional year off and play with the Rhinos.

“Since an early age, I have been skating, training and playing hockey,” said Kops. “Coach Oliwa lived in my hometown of West Orange when he played in the NHL for the Devils. My father and Coach Oliwa became friends at that time. Once Coach Oliwa started to work with the Rhinos, one of my immediate goals was to play for him. I went to an open tryout this past summer in Detroit and then spent three intense weeks at the Oliwa ShredZone with Coach Oliwa. Thankfully, I was offered a spot on the team.”

“Corey is a great kid with a huge heart and unreal work ethic,” added Oliwa. “He’ll be a fantastic addition to our roster this coming season.”

Kops said that to have known Oliwa for many years and now get the chance to play for him will be surreal.

“Growing up and watching Coach Oliwa in New Jersey provided me a roadmap to performance and success,” said Kops. “Coach Oliwa was very focused on his specific roles when he played in the NHL. His specific off-ice regimen provided him the framework for his on-ice performance. I understand and appreciate that system. In order to be a better player on the ice, you need to put in the time off the ice. That is why I am looking forward to my experience in Michigan. Based on my time with Coach Oliwas this summer, I experienced his coaching style and immediately experienced the results. I was invited to participate in an NCDC camp in Boston. I was very conditioned off the ice and based on the response from the camp, it showed on the ice.”

Being far from home will also be nothing new for Kops as Michigan is a bit closer than Israel.

“That experience prepared me to play in places out of my comfort zone,” Kops said. “Playing overseas kept me focused on my goals and increased my determination to become a better all-around player.”

Kops explained that his style of play revolves around “my speed and ability to be the first player to the puck.”

“I think it is important for players to understand their roles within a team and perform those role to their greatest abilities,” said Kops. “Some players have size, other players have strength etcetera. My strength is speed. I try to move as fast as I can and generate opportunities. When each player on the team performs their respective roles, great things happen on the ice.

“I am looking forward to the intensity that Coach Oliwa brings to the team. I have had many coaches over the years, but Coach Oliwa has a unique ability to motivate his players. I am looking forward to the training, practices and games. I am confident that I will continue to mature as a player.”

And looking ahead, Kops knows to keep his goals and aspirations reasonable and within reach.

“My short-term goals are to maximize this experience in Michigan,” said Kops. “This is my last year that I am eligible to play junior hockey. Michigan is a hockey hotbed, so I am looking forward to the entire experience. Hopefully, I will be a key player on the Rhinos’ roster and put up strong numbers. My long-term goals are to continue to play hockey at a high level in college and/or internationally.”

Source: Kalkaska Rhinos

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