Caleb Park carries the Kobe Mamba Mentality into speed skating

by US Speedskating

A new wave of speed skaters hit the ice this season as Caleb Park from Irvine, California recently joined the 2021-22 US Speedskating (USS) Short Track National Training Program.

After watching Olympic speed skaters reach speeds of over 35 miles-per-hour at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, Caleb knew that he had to go that fast, too.

Caleb didn’t wait long to learn the ropes of speed skating. In his second season in the sport, he was able to receive coaching and training from the likes of J.R. Celski and Eddy Alvarez, both speed skating Olympic medalists.

These two weren’t Caleb’s first idols, though. 

Growing up an avid Los Angeles Lakers and basketball fan in California, Caleb grew up idolizing basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. Bryant was the hero for Caleb and all of his friends from the state.

“When I was younger, it was always Kobe,” Caleb said. “My parents, especially my dad, always looked up to Kobe and admired him. It was a way of life to love him.”

When Caleb started his speed skating career after watching the sport on television in 2010, he knew that he had to carry the “Mamba Mentality” into speed skating. Kobe’s hard work and dedication that he gave to the game of basketball was something that Caleb always wanted to carry with him into speed skating.

If Caleb could take what Kobe had taught him growing up, he knew that his speed skating dreams could become a reality.

“The mentality that Kobe had that all athletes around the world could look up to truly inspired me,” Caleb said. “His leadership and his drive to achieve his goals are things that every single athlete can take away from and can carry over to each and every sport.”

Now as he enters into his first year on the US National Team, he’s driven by that same speed that drew him into the sport in 2010. Every year, Caleb strives to skate faster and faster.

Making the USS National Training Program was a huge accomplishment for Caleb, but he wants to make sure that he continues to aim higher.

“Making the team was another step on the ladder for my career,” Caleb said. “The ultimate dream and last step on the ladder would be to make the Olympics and medal at the Games.”

For this upcoming season, Caleb hopes to make the World Cup team which would provide extensive opportunities to further his international racing. His main goal for the short track team is that they each earn a Men’s and Women’s relay spot at Beijing.

Although the on-ice goals are in the front of everyone’s minds, Caleb truly wants to continue to grow the relationships he has with his teammates throughout the year.

“I’ve known these teammates for a while now,” Caleb said. “We all know each other pretty well, and we’ve adapted well with Steve [Short Track National Team Head Coach Stephen Gough] as our new coach. I really want to continue to grow with the entire team as skaters and as friends.”