Kim Muir (left) and Carrie Proszkowski (‘94) pose at the 2018 Pyeongchang with recent issues of the Laker Log.
A 6-month-old girl was left next to a trash bin on the streets of Seoul in the winter of 1974 and wound up in an orphanage for a few years. She later stood at the bedside of her adopted parents as they slept, making sure they weren’t going to leave her, too.
Kim Muir was a toddler then, in Michigan, far from her homeland.
She made an emotional return to South Korea in late February as a renowned skating coach, where she cheered for a handful of her clients playing hockey at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. She also took her two children to Seoul, her home until a U.S. couple adopted her at the age of 4.
“I’ve lived the American dream,” Muir, now 45, said recently in an interview with The Associated Press. “And, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents and this country.”
Muir, who graduated from LSSU’s pre-med program, has owned her power skating instruction firm for more than 20 years. More than 50 of her students currently play in the National Hockey League, with an equal number playing in the minor leagues.
Albert and Lois Muir met their adopted daughter September 1, 1976 in Chicago. Afterwards, they brought her home to Trenton, a figure skating and hockey hotbed in the suburbs south of Detroit. She had a difficult transition because of the language barrier and her fear of men, simply because there were so few of them at the orphanage. She remembers refusing to do anything, including going to the bathroom, without permission after she was adopted.
Soon after moving to the U.S., Kim Muir took to figure skating and began competing at local events at the age of 7. As the daughter of a hockey coach and sister of two older brothers, both of whom played hockey, she spent endless hours on and around sheets of ice and could understand the language of hockey as if it was her native tongue.
When Muir was 15 and didn’t think she could become an Olympic-caliber skater, she chose to focus on coaching instead of competing. The ambitious teen launched her business, “Can’t Skate, Can’t Play,” with two students, Tony and Brad Zancanaro. Within six months she had 200 clients.
At Lake Superior State, she put herself on a pre-med path with degrees in biology and chemistry while working as a skating instructor for the school’s national championship-winning hockey teams.
Muir used her degrees to get a job at Detroit Receiving Hospital at the age of 22, but the pull of teaching hockey players how to skate won the battle.
Kim Muir and her children live in suburban Detroit. Her only memory from the orphanage was getting in trouble for taking shoes off another child in what she describes as a survival-of-the-fittest environment. She didn’t want to go back without sharing the experience with her 9-year-old son, Vincenzo, and 8-year-old daughter, Alexis. She also wanted them to experience the thrill of witnessing the Olympics.
“I didn’t make it as an athlete, but I’m making it as a coach,” she said. “To be able to support my clients and take my kids back to the orphanage that I came from, that’s going full circle.”