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History professor awarded Fulbright to study hockey
This is Berglund’s third Fulbright award. Photo courtesy

This is Berglund’s third Fulbright award. Photo courtesy

This is Berglund’s third Fulbright award. Photo courtesy

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Calvin College announced on Wednesday, April 4, that history professor Bruce Berglund will go on an off-campus semester to research the global history of ice hockey on a Fulbright scholarship for a total of five months. In a recent interview with Calvin News and Stories, Berglund discussed the award. Much of the information below is from that story, which can be found here.

He will visit the Czech Republic, Canada and Korea for his research, delving into archival records in addition to oral history.

Berglund secured this research opportunity when he found a previously undiscovered source in the archives of the University of Manitoba in 2016. This source was the diary of a young Canadian student who played hockey at Oxford University in the 1920s.

During this time, Canadian students who played hockey at British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge travelled together to mainland Europe to compete against hockey club teams in countries such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Hungary.

As a Minnesota native, Berglund had always been fond of hockey and loved history, but he was unable to integrate these two topics as a graduate student at the University of Kansas due to an atmosphere that did not support the study of sports history.

Now, however, the scholarly climate has changed. Historians have begun to see the significance of studying sports as a tool to comprehend cultural history and past societies. With this change in general climate towards sports history, Berglund will contribute to this growing interest of sports history. After his research is concluded, he will write a book that will be part of a series published by the University of California Press.

erglund has already had a headstart on his research with connections in all three countries, and he has been to the Czech Republic on two different occasions to do research.

His first encounter with the Czech Republic was as a graduate student doing his dissertation research on a Fulbright Student Grant. In his stay from 1997 to 1998, Berglund witnessed the Czechs win the gold medal for hockey at the Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan.

His second experience came about eight years later, as a faculty member of Calvin College, again on a Fulbright research grant. This time his research produced a book on Czechoslovakian culture, titled “Castle and Cathedral in Modern Prague.”

In addition to his connections in Czechoslovakia, Berglund has connections with Jim Paek, the head of Korea’s national hockey organization. Paek played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and went on to win two Stanley Cups. After his retirement as a player, he worked nine years as the assistant coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Berglund will stay in Korea during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, during which time Jim Paek has presented Berglund with an all-access pass to Korea’s first hockey team to compete in the Olympics. He has also allowed Berglund to interview everyone on the team, including Paek.

According to Calvin News and Stories, Berglund stated that “Paek has been very generous in supporting this project. He’s interested in seeing hockey continue to develop in Korea and more broadly in East Asia. He sees my project as important in helping people understand the appeal of hockey not only in North America, Europe and Russia, but also in these other countries where the sport has been growing in recent decades.”

Berglund has done much research already in Canada and the US about the history of hockey. Among some of the interviews he has conducted, he has notably interviewed Michael Eisner, the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company. In 1993, Eisner had led Disney into creating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, a hockey team that currently competes in the NHL.

Berglund hopes that his research will not only aid him in writing his book, but also enable the cultural exchange between the US and respective countries, which was one of the main goals of the US in developing the Fulbright program.

The profile of Berglund on Calvin reads: “Professor Berglund’s work in global sports history extends into online media. He hosts the weekly podcast New Books in Sports, which has featured episodes on Taiwanese baseball, Japanese sumo, Indian cricket, Scottish soccer, Canadian hockey, and American football. And he is editor of the online journal The Allrounder, which offers essays on global sport by academics and journalists.”

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