Former CSU Student Heads to Winter Olympics

Kimani Griffin, a former Columbus State University student, recently earned a spot on the 2018 U.S. Winter Olympics long track speed skating team. He qualified earlier this month and heads to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February for the Olympic games.

“It honestly hasn’t set in yet,” said Griffin. “I’m really excited to be a part of the team and travel with everyone to Korea.”

In addition to being an athlete, Griffin is an accomplished guitarist. As a teenager, he received the prestigious honor of performing on PBS’s “From the Top at Carnegie Hall.” Around the same time, he was also breaking national records in skating. Faced with two very different – but promising –paths, Griffin decided to pursue guitar at CSU’s Schwob School of Music after visiting the university several times for competitions.

“If you are looking to pursue music, CSU has a really awesome program,” said Griffin. “It is by far my favorite music hall to perform in.”

Griffin received a Woodruff Scholarship, an honor reserved for only one or two students at the CSU Schwob School of Music each year. From 2008 to 2010, he devoted himself entirely to music. He trained under Dr. Andrew Eliot Zohn, the CSU Jo and George Jeter Distinguished Chair in Guitar, who is respected nationally and has attracted students from all over the world to CSU.

“I would lock myself in the studio. It was full time music, just like it is full time training now,” Griffin said.

Ultimately, Griffin returned to speed skating. After seeing his peers compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics, he made the decision to “take advantage of his youth” and pursue his Winter Olympics dreams. While his endeavor into music is on pause for now, he considers one day returning to CSU to complete his degree under Zohn, who remains to be a mentor for Griffin.

“I think about guitar quite a lot,” said Griffin. “I still think about going back to school for music later, because guitar is something I could do up until the day I die.”

For now, Zohn stays in touch with Griffin. He plans to watch his former student compete, cheering him on from Columbus.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Zohn said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”