KOKKOLAN TIIKERIT - Passion, guts and lust
Kokkolan Tiikerit or ”Tigers of Kokkola” are currently one of the best volleyball teams in Finland. Their hometown is Kokkola, on the western coast of Finland. Over the last few years, Kokkolan Tiikerit have climbed up to the top of the volleyball league. They were the Finnish champions for the first time in 2013 and silver medalists in 2014, when they also won the Finnish cup. More recently, Tiikerit won both the Finnish Cup and the Finnish championships in 2015 and in 2016.
Kokkolan Tiikerit are a blend of players of different ages, young professionals with promising futures and players with great experience, mixing various nationalities – Finnish, American, Venezuela and Canadian. The team is led by coach Jukka Mäkihannu, who knows how to inspire, challenge and guide the players towards victory while keeping an extremely positive atmosphere within the team. His slogans for this season are "win every day" and "compete to inspire".
Tiikerit have set foot outside of Finland to defy teams in France, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are ready to take up the challenge on the European scene again this year! This season, the team is making history by taking part the Champions League. It is the first time that a Finnish volleyball team is competing in this category in its current format.
NEWS – GAME DAYS ARE UP!
Check our calendar “Ottelukalenteri” on the right-hand side, to see when our home games are taking place. You can come to follow the Tiikerit – frenzy at the Hollihaka Liikuntahalli (Hollihaka school - address: Pikiruukintie 4, 67200 Kokkola).
You can buy tickets either:
- At the Tiger’s den, the Tiikeritalo at Torikatu 45, 67100 Kokkola (usually open from Monday to Friday, 13:00 – 17:00)
- Online on http://www.ennakkolippu.com
- At the door on the game day, itself
Ticket prices are:
- 15 € / adult
- 12 € / student / unemployed /pensioner (students get a special discount, paying only 5€ for specific games).
- Free for children under 12 years
(Notice, ticket prices may vary when it comes to EuroCup games and championship finals)
You can watch Tiikerit-home games live on http://www.kepit.tv. One game costs 9€ and service is super easy to use. You don't have to create an account, only things you need are an email address and credit card or PayPal-account. You can change the language from Finnish to English by clicking the EN-button in the top corner.
Where it all began
The home town of Tiikerit is Kokkola - a small town with nearly 50 000 inhabitants on the west coast of Finland, half way between the capital Helsinki and the famous hometown of Father Christmas, Rovaniemi, in Lapland. Kokkola used to be known only for its industries in Chemistry and higher education institutions, but these aspects are being overshadowed by Kokkola becoming famous for its Tigers and growing volleyball culture. Sports is playing an important part in the lives of Kokkola’s inhabitants, who actively enjoy local football and hockey matches, amongst others. The sport’s association “Kokkolan Tiikerit” was founded back in 1974. Tiikerit began playing in the second division and quickly reached the first league. They started playing in Finnish Champions’ league in 1978. Polish Olympic winner Wlodzimierz Sadalski joined Tiikerit in 1979 and helped them improve their game. Unfortunately, they fell back to the first division in 1981.
Tiikerit continued fighting and rose back to the champion’s league in 2011. Ever since, the only way has been moving up! In 2013, they have won the Finnish Cup and won the gold medal in the Finnish volleyball championships. They took part in their first CEV and Challenge cups games at the European level. In 2014, they won the Finnish cup and reached second place in the Finnish volleyball championships. Both in 2015 and 2016, the Kokkola Tiikerit won both the Finnish Cup and the Finnish championships.
Youth and women
The Tiikerit family also includes a successful women’s team. They have playing since the 1980’s. They are currently playing in the Finnish first division. The success of Tiikerit has had a very positive impact on the local cubs, interest in volleyball is also growing amongst the young people in Kokkola. There are many junior teams playing in Kokkola and various volleyball-related activities being organized - with children as young as 7 having a try at volleyball.
#1 Lasse Jylhä [Finland] Born: 1996, Height: 192 cm, Role: Setter
Lasse has been predicted a great future as a setter. He is tough when it comes to practice and is ready to put himself on the line, every single day. He has wanted to represent his hometown and now is glad to be doing so with Tiikerit. He is aiming at becoming the number one setter and maybe joining the Finnish national team.
#2 Lauri Jylhä [Finland] Born: 1996, Height: 193 cm, Role: Universal player
In 2014, Lauri was nominated to the Finnish national team, which shows what a huge potential Lauri has. His physical condition is extremely good and he will be truly challenging his older peers next year. As his brother Lasse, Lauri wanted to defend the colors of his home team and hopes to take on in important role within Tiikerit.
# 3 Antti Ropponen [Finland] Born: 1995, Height: 193 cm, Role: Opposite
I started playing when I was 8 in Nurmo (a small town in Finland) and from then on, passing through Seinäjoki and Kuortanen, I went on till I reached Tiikerit in Kokkola. My strength in Tiikerit is bloking right at the net and swift moves before smashing in the opponent's field.Why you should come to watch the games? There are hundreds of things happening throughout the game and our team spirit is incredible, it will surely bring a smile to you face!
My motto is “you only live once, so you should live to the fullest!"
I am so stocked when the sport’ hall is really noisy, the more noise, the better! Welcome! Come and try out the vibe in our hornets’ nest! You won’t be disappointed by Herrera’s celebration or Leppälä’s mullet!
# 4 Dennis Del Valle [PRI] Born: 1989, Height: 175 cm, Role: Libero
I've been playing professional volleyball for 5 years now.I am kind of a quiet guy yet a try to be funny at times. I heard about Kokkola first time when one of my best friend from Puerto Rico played for the team a couple of years back Edgardo Goas. Suddenly he introduce me to the old coach Tommi and since then I only heard great things about the team and the club. Now I am just really happy to be here and proudly wearing our Kokkola Tiikerit uniform! I was not here last season so it's hard to tell what I bring to the team, they won the championship so that’s says a lot of last years team. But I think I can help with parts of my game such as bringing great energy, communication and big personality on the court. People need to come to give us a lot of support and cheer on us because we used that as a motivation and it definitely brings the best out of us on the court!
My Motto: "Work hard in silence and let success make the noise"
We have a really good competitive young team. This year we want to continue the winning tradition that the club has built in the last couple of years by putting on a good show for you guys (our fans!) Kokkola it's been great. Everyone it's been very welcoming, everything looks clean and a lot of people speak English. And it's a nice beautiful place to live.
#5 Steve Hunt [CAN] Born: 1990, Height: 197 cm, Role: Outside Hitter
I am a Canadian who has been living abroad playing volleyball for the past 9 years. I love hanging with friends and family, have a thing for fitness and love animals. Conor Eaton connected me with Kokkola and the rest is history. I bring red hair, there was no redheads that I know of that were here before.. and i hit the ball hard and have a drive and determination to win. Fans should come to watch because we are good at what we do, we are intense and fun to watch. We give 100% to what we do and are determined to win. Oh and we are very good looking men.
If you dont go, you won't know. Live your life. To all our fans, and future fans, we appreciate all the support and love from you all.. look forward to some great memories in the upcoming season.Kokkola, and Finland in general remind me of Canada, the people are nice, the land is beautiful, and its cold as heck!
# 6 Robert Seppänen [Finland] Born: 1990, Height: 195 cm, Role: Universal player
#7 Conor Eaton [USA] Born: 1987, Height: 190 cm, Role: Setter
My name is Conor Eaton, I was born and raised in Southern California. I started playing volleyball when I was 10 years old with my brother Patrick which led me to Long Beach State University where I played for 4 years while obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Communications. It has been a long journey since then to find myself in Kokkola but to keep it short I was able to land a 2 year contract with Isku Volleyball in which I am still very grateful for as it led to me getting an offer to play for Kokkolan Tiikerit. From the first time I ever played against Tiikerit I knew that it was a top level club that I would love to be a part of so I am thrilled to be here and compete for this team and the fans in Kokkola!
My open personality on the court is something that most people have always noticed about me as a player. I am never scared to show my passion for the game of volleyball and I think that is something that people will notice and respect in my game immediately. As we all know, Steven Kehoe was a great setter and laid a lot of the ground work that led the club to be so successful over the past few years. As a testament to his hard work, I can only hope to continue where he left off and be the best leader I can to win the club another Championship. It is hard to compare our team to the old with so many new players but I am very confident that if we push ourselves and stay dedicated to our goals, we will be able to have similar success and bring home another Championship for the city of Kokkola.This city has been lucky enough to be able to watch volleyball be played at the highest level in their home town. It is not often that you are presented with such a great team to represent your city with so much success every year. The 2016-17 team is no exception. We have a lot of big personalities on our roster that will make the experience as a spectator very special. We really encourage you to come share your passion of volleyball and athletics with us. The fans play a huge role in helping us feel supported and play with the confidence that we will need in order to reach our goals. I have already felt the love from so many of our passionate fans and we hope to return the favor with another Championship for all of you!
My motti is: “Saints must sleep and even prophets must play” - M. Scott Peck
I am really looking forward to wearing black and yellow and to put on a fun show for everyone this year. It is going to be a special season for all of us. Thank you for all your support.
In my 2 years residing in Finland I have noticed that the Finnish people have an immense amount of respect for one another and the foreigners that visit/reside in your country. I have told people many times when I go home about the Finnish people, praising your honest, polite, yet hard working culture and I am incredibly lucky to share this experience with my wife and consider this our second home. Kiitos!!
#8 Teemu Lahti [Finland] Born: 1996, Height: 190 cm, Role: Universal player/Opposite
#9 Antwain Aguillard [USA] Born: 1989, Height: 200 cm, Role: Middle Blocker
I am originally from Las Vegas and I'm 27. This will be my 4th year abroad but my second year in Finland. I came back here because in my previous experiences abroad I found that Finland was a great place to play. Here we have good clubs and management as well as good work ethic. So I consider myself lucky to have been able to join the best team this year. I consider myself to be a good player that is always willing to do whatever it is to help our team succeed. I'm not sure if they were missing anything in the past years because they have been very successful but I add some more diversity I guess you can say.
I think the people of Kokkola should come out and watch us compete because there are a lot of new faces this year that have a lot of talent. I think the supporters won't be let down by this years group.
I can't say I have a motto that makes me feel better in different situations, instead I remember what my motivations are and what our goals as a team are.
I think one thing I would tell the fans would be I'm always excited after a point or a win even if my facial expressions don't work so well in those moments. I'm a bit awkward at times.
I like a lot about Finland. I love that your country cares and takes care of their people. I also appreciate how kind people are in Finland. The coffee is one of my favorite parts of Finland as well the oval shaped rice bread things. I'm not sure of the name. The cold weather and snow is also very nice to experience, I don't get much of that in Las Vegas.
# 11 Antti Leppälä [Finland] Born: 1992, Height: 195 cm, Role: Middle Blocker
Antti is one of Kokkola’s own boys, he has literally been brought up by Tiikerit. Antti is a strong blocker and knows how to read the game. Antti has been along winning both gold and silver medals in the Finnish Championship, as well as the Finnish Cups. Antti has taken on an important role within the team and is the team’s funny guy.
#13 Michael Hatch [USA] Born: 1991, Height: 204 cm, Middle Blocker
I just graduated BYU where I was playing for one of the best college teams in America. I wanted to keep playing he sport I love so I looked into playing in Europe. I've known a few people who have played in Finland so when this opportunity came up I was super excited to take it.
I was one of the top blockers in the NCAA in each year I played in college so I bring a strong defensive game. I make smart decisions and play composed under pressure. People should come to Hollihaka to see some great volleyball. We all have fun playing and the fans will be able to see that while we play. They have to see us win a championship again.
My Motto is "Don't worry, be happy!"
I love how beautiful Kokkola and Finland are. The people are so nice and have been so welcoming of my wife and I. I love saunas!
#17 Enderwin Herrera [Venezuela] Born: 1984, Height: 192 cm, Role: Universal player
I am in love with this city "Kokkola" i met great people here and of course almost everybody loves volleyball so that is also good to get their feelings.. - I bring to Tiikerit positive things, happiness and sometimes sadness too, but the most important thing that i can bring if show everyone that we always are fighting together and we are just one. But also I have to say thank you Tiikerit family for bring me a lot of things during my stay here durin last season and this next new one. Tiikerit bring me more than i bring to Tiikerit. - people should come to Hollihaka and to the hockey hall because we need their support and also because we play for them, we are one family and family always have to be together. Lets do it together, let's enjoy together.. - my motto is my real family (Venezuelan), my dog Zion because I sacrifice for them and of course for me. - to our fans never give up and make noise not matter the situation. Future fans you will feel the best feeling during the games and you are very important.. - I appreciate how people treat me during my 7 seasons here in Finland, I like when the people are happy ( mostly when they are drunk ) but they are totally different and also love the snow and Finland have so beautiful ladies..
Coaching: Jukka Mäkihannu, Mikko Keskisipilä
Manager: Ilkka Tattinen
Caretaker: Jasse Puikko
Statistics: Joonas Meriläinen
Physiotherapist: Jukka Ritola
Gear up in yellow and black! Show your support to Tiikerit! Here you can buy your own hoodie, cap, coat and other fan merch!