1 year became 12 years -
Volikakis settled down in Korea where he originally visited for the holidays
Manos Volikakis (40), the hockey coach at Chadwick International in Songdo, came to Korea 12 years ago when he was a high-spirited young man in his 20s. It was his first visit to Korea. Back then, he was planning to cool off in Korea for a year and return to the school he was attending.
But he has been living in Korea for 12 years since then and even has a harmonious family with a wife and two sons, spending a very happy life. What happened?
Let’s listen to his story about how he made a family and settled down in Korea where he simply came for holidays.
#A Relationship Led to Another Relationship
When Coach Volikakis first came to Korea, he lived in Itaewon. He had many chances to hang out with people that came from various countries in Itaewon, which is an area with a high population of foreigners. He has been exercising since his childhood and was able to experience various sports while hanging out with friends. He said he enjoyed and learned various sports, such as American football and golf, other than hockey that he used to play.
He lived three years like that in Itaewon and moved to Songdo nine years ago. In his first year at Songdo, he was hired as the physical education teacher at Chadwick International, when the parents of his students, who heard that Volikakis worked as a coach at a famous hockey club in Mok-dong, Seoul, suggested that he teach hockey at Chadwick International as well. This was when he began to teach a hockey team comprised of 40 children. In the following year, his team even competed in their first official tournament. At the time, the children were not very familiar with, but Volikakis recalls that some children showed potential.
The hockey team started with two coaches, but more children as well as coaches joined the team. Luckily, two Canadian teachers came to Chadwick International six years ago and also joined the hockey team. One of the Canadian teachers is Bobby Reed, who went to the same school as Volikakis. They were a part of the school’s football team and hockey team and had kept in touch even after graduating from school.
Volikakis said Reed came to Korea after leading his career as a professional hockey player and earning a pedagogy degree, but perhaps, Volikakis’s advice might have influenced him.
Whatever the reason was, it is a fact that Volikakis felt psychologically relieved and had great help in upgrading the hockey team thanks to George and Bobby from Canada.
#Passion over Work!
Volikakis is quite passionate and proud of the hockey team. No wonder Chadwick International hockey team became the representative team for the Incheon Regional Youth Winter Sports Games three times.
The team also invited a professional ice hockey league of America and Canada (National Hockey League) for their hockey camp for the first time. Four years ago, the Canadian NHL ice hockey team, ‘Vancouver Canucks,’ visited Chadwick International.
The Chadwick Hockey Program was the major sponsor for Canadian men’s and women’s Olympics teams, which set up their pre-games training camp in Incheon in 2018. With that connection, the coaches and athletes of the Canadian Olympic women program came to support the camp. They have continuously maintained strong relationships up to this day, when the world stopped by COVID-19.
Volikakis says that the Chadwick Dolphins was able become the only team that represented Korea in the World Youth Hockey Tournament, the largest tournament in the world, performed well and made wonderful memories, thanks to its connections.
Volikakis added that all these achievements could have not been possible without support from Coach Reed and Chadwick, not to mention the parents who provided enormous support for the operation of the program and invested tremendous amounts of time.
Volikakis is a professional sportsperson and instructor who learned and practiced various sports, including football, hockey, and rugby, since the age of six. He teaches students to ‘Put your team first. Your behavior and actions make a successful team.’ ‘You can lose or fail in a game, but never give up and continue to walk toward the goal you set up.’ This is Coach Volikakis’s education philosophy and the school’s motto, “Lead by Example.”
Coach Volikakis said he came to Korea thinking that he would live here for a year, but life does not always turn out as it was planned and he has already lived in Korea for 12 years. He did not give specifics about his future plans. He only said he has to think about the future because the world is going through the pandemic due to COVID-19.
He thinks that he is fortunate to be in Korea, which is handling the pandemic situation quite well, at this moment, and he is quite satisfied with his life in Songdo, which has everything and is connected to everywhere. His family also wishes to continue to live as they have, enjoying the food and culture of Korea.
No one knows how the future will turn out, but Volikakis says the only thing that would not change is that he would not have been here if he did not teach children hockey and the passion for sports that led him here.