by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com
As you recruit and build your teams, there are three foundations from the Miracle on Ice team that can be of tremendous help.
First, while nowadays we hear of Dream Teams in the Olympics (starting with the 1992 U.S. men’s basketball team in Barcelona), Herb Brooks instead built a ‘team of dreamers.’ There is a difference. He recruited young men who dared to dream that they could do the impossible. Many of these young men were being pursued by the NHL, and could have easily bypassed the seven month journey with Herb. At first, experts had them as a long shot for a bronze, much less a gold and a win over the Soviets. Still, they had an inner faith that something special could be out there.
Herb Brooks had two favorite movies, The Sound of Music and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He often said that we quit dreaming as we get older. We get too sophisticated. Do you share your dreams with your recruits. Do you share how they can be a part of the vision and of something that becomes a legacy at that school?
Second, Herb built a team filled with egos but no ego problems. There is a difference. He had many bigtime college stars and many had been captains of their teams. They had healthy opionions of their abilities, but an uncanny ability to check their egos at the door. During the historic USA USSR game February 22, 1980 defenseman Bob Suter did not play. Herb felt his gimpy ankle would not allow him to keep up with the speedy Soviets. Suter did a slow burn about this, but kept it to himself and did nothing to upset team spirit.
We are coming up on the 35th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. February 22nd will be the annivesary of the 4-3 win over the Soviets and February 24th will 35 years since the win over Finland in the gold medal game.
Keep dreaming as you recruit and build your programs. When the 1980 Winter Games began in beautiful Lake Placid, New York, there were several thousand empty seats and very little media when Team USA played Sweden the day before Opening Ceremonies. Less than two weeks later over 40 million Americans were watching on ABC and over 11,000 fans crammed into the 7,700 seat arena. The world’s top journalist were packed in the press box. Air Force One would be on its way to take them to the White House.
Herb spent years researching prospects for his team. He called countless coaches to get perspectives. One time he called the coach of Dave Silk, who Herb didn’t feel had the speed to make his team. Herb listened as the coach told him Silk had that innate ability to make things happen, and that he would be your guy out there at the end.
The most famous call in all of sports came from Al Michaels in 1980. He said this: “Eleven seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! “Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? … Yes!”
Silk was out there on the ice at the very end. Herb had listened to the coach, stored the info, and went with him to wrap up the Soviet win.
If you would like to know more about my special program on How the Miracle on Ice happened and Lessons from it, you can reach me at charlie@stokethefirewithin. With the 35th annivesary coming up, this is a good time for college coaches, athletes and administrators to hear the full back story of the greatest sports moment in United States history.