News from Cardigan

Continuing an International Hockey Tradition 41 Years in the Making
Date: 03/06/2018

Finland and Cardigan HockeyBy Charles Lister-James, Director of Spiritual Life

The Cardigan community recently welcomed friends from the Vehkoja Koulu School in Finland for a week of friendship, brotherhood, and athletics. This long-standing tradition between the two schools, fostered by Schuyler Peck ’63, Coach Jim Marrion, John D’Entremont ’94, and Coach Ryan Frost, has generated a deep connection between the communities.

Photo Gallery: Cardigan's Varsity Hockey vs. Vehkoja School 

Coach Frost is reminded of how these trips build strong relationships from the “Old Boys” alumni hockey game and sauna in Finland, to the many alumni who return to watch the games and relive their past experiences. Coach Frost has led four of the exchange trips to Finland, and finds that each trip takes on a life of its own, creating its own stories and special memories. He says, “One of the special things about Finland’s visit to Cardigan this year was having two fathers, who both came on the trip as boys in 1989 and 1993, come on the trip with their sons.”

Patrick Turcotte P’15, head coach of Cardigan’s Varsity Hockey Team, knows firsthand the power that athletics can have on the development of young men. “Hockey is an excuse to get together and discover a new world, and through sports I was fortunate enough to travel the world,” he says. “Our relationship with the Vehkoja Koulu School is the same, as it allows boys from across the ocean to meet through a shared passion and discover a new culture.”

Video: Cardigan Welcomes Our Friends From Finland

Finnish students in classSimilarly, John Gordon, Varsity Hockey Team coach believes that having the opportunity to travel to Finland last year and host this year has made him realize the importance of this relationship between the two schools. “The students who participate in this program are able to create lifelong memories,” he says. “The game brings them together, but kindness and genuine respect for each other keeps that relationship going.”

Coach Gordon knew just how special this recent visit would be to our community. “Having a current student, Santeri “Sasa” Kalteva ’18, host his father and brother was great,” he says. “Having parents return to Cardigan nearly 30 years after they were part of the trip as students demonstrates the longevity of the relationship. The genuine appreciation our guests showed for Cardigan helps our students and adults realize how lucky we are to be part of such a great tradition.”

Photo Gallery: JV Hockey vs. Vehkoja School

The tradition began in 1976 when Cardigan’s Varsity Hockey Team first visited Finland, with the Vehkoja Koulu School sending its first students to Cardigan a few years later. Cardigan’s most recent visit to Finland took place in 2017, and the experience was clearly a powerful one for the boys: 

Finnish students with Cardigan student“The Finland tradition means getting to connect with brothers I didn't even know I had. Going to Finland was the best experience of my life and I would not change it for anything. My favorite part was being able to hang out with both the Vehkoja School and my Cardigan brothers, and having a good time all around.” — Ryan Sweeney ’18

“The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to experience a new culture and also play a sport I love. My favorite part of the trip was going in the saunas every night and getting to know my host family who are now lifelong friends: Valtteri, Oskari,and Veeti.” — Malcolm Bussey ’18 

Photo Gallery: Finnish Guests Practice with Cardigan’s Basketball Team

It had been at four years since the Vehkoja Koula School last visited Cardigan. During their weeklong stay, students attended classes and Chapel, visited Boston, and immersed themselves in a variety of other experiences. They played games against Cardigan’s Varsity and JV Hockey Teams, the Vermont Flames, Stanstead College from Canada, the Winchendon School, and Groton School. 

Though we were sorry to see our Finnish friends leave, it was a fantastic week which showcased the unique connection between our two schools.
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