George C. Akerstrom
When the day comes to honor the coaching titans in the world of prep-school hockey, George Akerstrom’s name will be hailed among the very first.
That won’t be because his name begins with an A, but because he left 33 years worth of indelible coaching impressions on the countless young men who played for him at Kimball Union Academy. He was a coach who, as a hockey tactician, innovator and friend, left behind large lessons and memories.
Kimball Union Academy’s hockey history began with the season of 1935-36. George arrived in Meriden in time for the start of the 1944-45 season. By the time he retired in 1978, he had accumulated more than 319 victories. (Unfortunately, the 1973-74 record is not available.) His total tenure at the school was 35 years.
The 1955-56 season was especially sweet. The KUA skaters went undefeated for the first time in the school’s illustrious history: 11-0-1. That lone tie was against the Dartmouth freshmen.
George also had three seasons when his teams finished with just a single loss: 11-1 in 1945-46; 11-1 in 1956-57; and 13-1 in 1958-59-that loss, too, to the Dartmouth freshmen.
In those 33 campaigns that George was on the bench, Kimball Union Academy hockey teams produced 28 winning seasons. He had many superb teams populated by many superb players who went on to great college careers. Just a very few among the very many were: Toot Cahoon (Boston University), Bob Blood (University of New Hampshire), Jim Mullen and Paul Schilling (Boston College), and Eugene Teevens (Dartmouth).
One of the fond memories that recently surfaced about George’s early years as coach is that the first “real” set of Kimball Union Academy hockey uniforms was purchased with funds from the sale of pheasants raised by George. The buyer? The State of New Hampshire. George truly was an innovator and improviser!
In 1988, the rink at Kimball Union Academy was named for George, as he was celebrated for being a man for all seasons.
In 1992, George was the fifth recipient of the American Hockey Coaches Association’s annual John Mariucci Award as the secondary school coach who exemplifies the spirit, dedication and enthusiasm of the “Godfather of US Hockey.” In 1996 George was inducted into the Colgate University Hall of Honor.
His outstanding play in his senior year as a Red Raider earned him a trip to the East-West Shrine football game in January 1935. Gerald Ford (Michigan) who would later become U.S. President wrote: “You were tough competition for the starting spot at center and prevailed, congratulations, I was proud to be your backup.” Although they did not meet often, they remained friends and corresponded over the years on special occasions.
George Akerstrom – Class of 2008.
Please welcome Helen Bronk-Akerstrom accepting for her husband, the late George Akerstrom.