WMU News

Plight of Canadian hockey players at U.S. colleges explored

March 24, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The action-packed sport of hockey and the problem of large numbers of Canadian players invading U.S. college teams will face off on Tuesday, March 30, when a hockey coach and historian speaks on campus.

Dr. Andrew Holman, associate professor of history at Bridgewater (Mass.) State College will speak on "The Canadian Hockey Player Problem: Constructing National Identities in U.S. College Athletics, 1947-75." The presentation is free and open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center. The talk is sponsored by the WMU Canadian Studies Committee and is part of an ongoing series of "Canada on Campus" events.

Holman's presentation traces the efforts of coaches, recruiters, administrators and alumni to attract Canadians to U.S. hockey programs. Those efforts were quite successful and, by the end of the 1950s, Canadian student athletes threatened to dominate American collegiate hockey.

That had consequences for both Canadian and U.S. hockey programs, Holman maintains.

"Heated debates emerged in these years about the threats that these students posed both to American collegiate athletics and to Canadian amateur hockey," Holman says. "The Canadianization of U.S. college hockey from 1947 to 1975 was hardly universally welcomed in the United States nor in Canada, and it produced no small amount of rancor among both American and Canadian commentators."

Holman earned his doctoral degree in history from York University in Toronto in 1995 and has garnered numerous grants in support of his wide-ranging scholarship in the areas of urban history, sports history, borderland studies and the cultural dimensions of Canadian-American relations. In 2000, McGill-Queen's University Press published Holman's book "A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns."

Holman currently is co-writing "Hockey: A Short History" under contract with the University of Illinois Press. Other ongoing projects include studies of ethnic, religious and patriotic holiday celebrations in the United States and Canada borderlands during the 19th and early 20th centuries and an examination of students, women and the making of popular diplomacy in Canada and the United States from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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