Mike Kopchynski – Athlete
Born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Michael Kopchynski moved to Prince Albert at a very young age and it didn’t take long for the community to hear about the talented youth.
Michael played hockey and soccer in his formative years and excelled in both sports. His talents helped local clubs win numerous city championships, but it was his proficiency in a soccer skills competition that gained him national and international recognition.
In 1972, at the tender age of 12, Kopchynski won the provincial Adidas Soccer Skills Competition and for the next year he trained daily in preparation for the national competition to be held in Toronto, Ontario.
The skills competition was complex at best as all participants had to compete in 10 events which ranged from juggling the ball with their feet ‑ one at a time and then alternating from one to the other ‑ and with their head. They also had to shoot accurately after juggling the ball down field for a short distance plus general skills competitions.
Over 60,000 children between the ages of nine and 14 started out seeking the national championship, but in 1973 the only one left was Michael Kopchynski.
As a reward for his first‑place finish, Kopchynski travelled to Germany and France in 1973 to attend a professional soccer game and compete in the European Finals Skills Competitions as a guest of Adidas, the sportswear corporation.
Kopchynski continued his involvement in the skills competition in later years as he helped Dave Tippett and Lester Mylymok also claim national championships. The trio of Prince Albert soccer stars were recognized for the accomplishments as they travelled to Montreal in 1976 to be ball boys for the Summer Olympics.
As a player, Kopchynski won a city championship with the West Hill Rascals in 1972, played for the Saskatchewan under‑ 16 Selects in 1975, competed in the 1976 Saskatchewan Summer Games in Saskatoon and participated in the 1974Western Canada under‑18 select games in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the 1979 Western Canada Summer Games.
Although his achievements in hockey weren’t as recognized as those in soccer, Kopchynski did reach a high level in his winter pastime.
Kopchynski was captain of a peewee all‑star team in 1972 that won an interprovincial tournament in Kildonan, Man., he captained the Prince Albert Midget Raiders in 1976‑77 and that same year he also played part of the season with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. His junior career came to an end in 1980 when he led the Prince Albert Junior “B” Jaks in scoring.
Michael Kopchynski has been an excellent ambassador for the city of Prince Albert and it is with great pride that the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame welcomes him into athlete’s category of the local shrine.
Inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.