The Ultimate Co-Op
Ken Kaminski was able to turn his passion into his co-op job, working for the Detroit Mechanix, a professional team in the recently formed American Ultimate Disc League.
The Ultimate Co-Op
The passion Kettering University Mechanical Engineering senior Ken Kaminski has for the sport of Ultimate is uncanny.
Kaminski is the B-section captain and a founder of the Kettnetic Thunder Ultimate team, one of the school’s two official team sports. Since the team began in 2009, he’s helped the program into a campus mainstay that has become so popular there are now two teams -- a developmental roster as well as a main team. Kettnetic Thunder’s success has even branched out to other college campuses, where Kaminski’s leadership provides consulting to Ultimate teams that are either struggling to gain traction or ones that are starting from scratch.
Last summer, however, Kaminski was able to turn that passion into his co-op job, working for the Detroit Mechanix, a professional team in the recently formed American Ultimate Disc League.
Kaminski started off working in the team’s operation systems in a technical support role. But when the team’s general staff had a bit of a fallout, Kaminski’s experience running Kettnetic Thunder kicked in and he took over a lot of responsibilities, doing things like managing the roster and coordinating home games and playoff games, which were held in the Pontiac Silverdome.
“I didn’t have time to let things soak in much because I was so busy and there was a lot of pressure,” Kaminski said. “But I work best under pressure and the experience with starting Kettnetic Thunder had me ready.”
That experience helped Kaminski not only with his co-op, but professionally in general.
“When I was a freshman, I didn’t have much experience leading,” Kaminski said. “Starting Kettentic Thunder, I had to do a lot of research, I had to schedule practices, I had to learn how to not only recruit, but also keep and retain players. It was like my hobby, but it also helped me get qualifications that were incorporated into working for a professional team.”
Kaminski has used those skills, along with his engineering background, to launch Aero Ultimate, an innovation company where he creates products specifically for Ultimate. The company has created a product called The SkyLight, a vertical trainer with a magnetically released disc, telescoping feature and portability, to help Ultimate athletes work on individual skills. He’s also working on patents for other yet-to-be released products.
“I still like engineering and this is a way to combine it with Ultimate,” Kaminski said. “My goal is to become a brand as recognizable as Nike or Adidas but to the sport of Ultimate.”
Kaminski, a Senior I at Kettering, still continues his involvement with Kettnetic Thunder. The team is preparing to host its third annual tournament, Thunderstorm 2012, on Oct. 13. He’s also managing a larger roster as the sport has become increasingly popular on Kettering’s campus and he’s working with teams at other colleges.
“We’re trying to take the things we’ve learned here and the things that have made Kettnetic Thunder successful and share that knowledge,” Kaminski said. “If we package how we’ve grown and share what we’ve done right, we will be able to help the sport grow even faster.”
He has already worked with a team at IUPUI that had previously struggled to get a competitive team started.
“They’re doing great so far,” Kaminski said. “Next summer, we’ll be looking for more teams to help. Our goal is to help 50 teams by 2015.”