The Lud Andolsek story, more than just hockey

Jayson Hron’s Historically Inclined has another fine post today about the early career of Chisholm’s Lud Andolsek, who emerged from Slovenian immigrant roots to build the sport of hockey in Minnesota, specifically the program at St. Cloud during the Great Depression years.

Ostensibly this is a post about hockey and a guy who was good at hockey, but in Hron’s rich prose it naturally becomes about much, much more. This is one man’s story, the people around him, an immigrant nation and the way things were in a time and place.

I had only heard of Andolsek in political circles, as a longtime associate of former Congressman John Blatnik. If you read this, you will have new respect for a name you might not know, but you’ll also know more about the Iron Range at the apex of its cultural development before World War II.

In the early ’30s, Eveleth Junior College was the top college hockey program in the nation, ranked ahead of elite east coast universities. In addition to being excellent on its own rink, it fed the top four-year college programs in the country through transfers. These alumni would often go on to lose to Eveleth on their new teams.

When St. Cloud State was known as St. Cloud Teachers’ College, it’s mascot name was The Pedagogues. You know, pedagogy? You would if you were a teacher and a nerd! The Pedagogues were among the best college hockey teams in the nation under Andolsek’s coaching.

I first heard Andolsek’s name in a speech by Jim Oberstar in 2008. He imitated Andolsek’s thick Slovenian accent. Both Oberstar and Blatnik were known for modulating their Slovenian accents as a result of their time in Congress, but Andolsek apparently never did.

I’m further fascinated by Hron’s efforts to package this beautiful long form writing into a small, commemorative book with bonus pictures and captions. What a nice idea! I hope it goes well for him. You can’t beat this for online writing; I have to figure out a way to stop fawning over his material; or maybe not!

Photo: Historically Inclined

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