Meet Modern-Day Renaissance Man and Laurel Springs Alum Matej Silecky


You could say Matej Silecky is a modern-day Renaissance man. As a professional figure skater, filmmaker, polyglot (that means he speaks several languages), and artist, no two days are the same.

The California-based athlete is full of energy and potential. His passion for figure skating also runs deep. He just needed to make the experience align with what he loved most about it.

“I started skating back when I was 5 years old—with hockey,” he says. “I was pretty good on the ice. But I guess the gist of it is that I was not really enjoying playing hockey and ‘being the puck,’ as I told my mom when I was younger. So, I asked my parents if I could skate without the stick. And that sort of moved me in the direction of figure skating.”

Making a Comeback

He did just that and dabbled in all aspects of skating, including speed skating.

Fast-forward to today and he’s still pursuing the sport, despite taking a break. As he explains, he took a six or seven-year hiatus due to an injury but came back to figure skating at the encouragement of the U.S. Figure Skating Federation.

Continuing that trajectory, he and his skating partner Kate Finster recently competed at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Nashville, where they placed seventh in the pairs short program.

When he’s not training for five hours a day or competing, he stays busy with other pursuits. A longtime film aficionado, Matej says a college filmmaking class captured his attention and interest. He found it natural to tell people’s stories from behind the camera. It was around this time he realized there was a need to provide a venue for preserving oral histories from the Soviet Union/Ukraine in the World War II era.

Telling Stories

[caption id="attachment_14306" align="alignleft" ]Movie poster for documentary film "Baba Babee Skazala [Grandmother Told Grandmother]", which has screened at nine film festivals in five countries. Movie poster for documentary film "Baba Babee Skazala [Grandmother Told Grandmother]", which has screened at nine film festivals in five countries.[/caption]That’s exactly what he’s done with the documentary "Baba Babee Skazala [Grandmother Told Grandmother]", which has screened at nine film festivals in five countries. The project is personal and a labor of love, as his parents and grandparents are from the Ukraine. Though born in the United States, Matej speaks Ukrainian, Russian, and Japanese. In other words, his interests are varied and his dedication to the project at hand is unwavering.

“I had a desire, especially going into the film, to create a feature-length film, first, as the very first film that was going to be out there,” he says. “And it definitely was a long endeavor, and it's been quite a journey with COVID. We've been working really hard on continuing to host screenings and events to try and continue to get the word out about it.”

Matej Silecky: A Man of Many Talents

Speaking of work, Matej also spends his free time pursuing digital artwork and photography.

“With the interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), I've actually moved into doing more digital art collections at this point. I have yet to release my first collection, but it’s in the works.”

The discipline and drive that help Matej pursue and achieve in so very many areas are traits years in the making.

According to Matej, attending school in an online format at Laurel Springs School challenged him to manage his time better and thrive academically, preparing him to earn a bachelor of arts degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. Prior to Laurel Springs, he says the teachers at his school weren’t as willing to work with him and around his training. Conversely, he felt Laurel Springs supported him on several levels.

The Academy at Laurel Springs allowed me to maintain a strong education and take additional college courses while training as a figure skater,” he says. “I would not have been able to achieve what I did without Laurel Springs.”

He also gives credit to the level of academic rigor the school provided. For instance, he remembers being impressed with the science courses. While other students in the public school didn’t have access to lab kits per se, he was able to experiment and learn by doing. In retrospect, he credits several teachers and advisor Katja Bruinink who made an impression on him to help him achieve his goals.

See Matej and Kate in the USA Today’s photo gallery Best of the 2022 US figure skating championships.

We can't wait to hear about what Matej does next!

Matej remains connected to the Laurel Springs alumni community as a member of LSS Alumni Connect. Join today to network with Matej or any of your fellow alumni.