Matt McIlvane might be the only American in PyeongChang rooting against the U.S. men’s hockey team.
But at least he has a good reason.
McIlvane — a Chicago native — is an assistant coach on the German men’s hockey team, a position he’s held for all of two weeks.
Every single person who is currently experiencing the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang has had a whirlwind journey to get to this point. But McIlvane stands as one of the last people in the world to find out he’d be attending the Games.
McIlvane has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach to Don Jackson for the Munich Red Bulls Ice Hockey Club in Germany. There was a last-second coaching change on Team Germany ahead of PyeongChang, leaving a vacancy that McIlvane ended up filling just a couple days before the team was supposed to leave for South Korea.
The German ice hockey league does what the NHL used to do — goes on break for most of February since many players in the league are partaking in the Winter Games. McIlvane was supposed to fly home with his wife, Megan, and their son for the month-long break, but instead had to stay in Germany as he awaited his Olympic fate.
“I found out that next day it was 100 percent, so I ended up going and meeting the team and went to training camp,” McIlvane said. “We’re literally talking last minute, which is kind of incredible. It’s totally surreal.”