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The Miracle On Ice: Building A Winning TeamMonday, January 26th, 2015

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.

How The Miracle On Ice Team Inspires Athletes TodayFriday, January 16th, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

When you are going through recruiting or building a program, what do you look towards for inspiration?

Theo Epstein runs the Chicago Cubs now and looks to have them headed towards good times. Before, he ran the Red Sox organization and made a point to look towards the Miracle on Ice team when the Sox made their epic run towards the World Series just over a decade ago.

In 2004 the Red Sox fell behind to the New York Yankees 3 games to 0 in the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox lost Game 3 at home 19-8 to the Yankees. No team had ever come back from a 3-0 defecit in the ALCS.

It was at that point that Epstein hammered home how the 1980 U.S. Olympic team was not given a shot at the Winter Games (seeded 7th of 12) and certainly not a prayer in the world vs the Soviets, but they got it done. No one thought the Red Sox could come back from 3 games down. No one thought the 1980 boys could beat the Soviets.

Yet, both shocked the world and made sports history.

Down 3 games to 0, Epstein contacted goalie Jim Craig from the 1980 team and asked if he could throw out the first pitch of Game 4 at Fenway Park. Craig could not as he was committed to delivering a motivational talk in Las Vegas. Epstein forged on, though, and kept talking about what the Miracle on Ice team had overcome.

Sure enough, the Sox won Game 4, and then Game 5, and then Game 6! They would force a Game 7 in Yankee Stadium. Before the game, pitcher Curt Schilling arrived with the movie Miracle (on the 1980 team) and the Red Sox watched it in the locker room before the game. Starting for them on the mound that night – in possibly the biggest game in Red Sox history – would be Derek Lowe. He had been so bad lately that he had been sent to the bullpen.

Lowe was sitting there when Epstein walked over with a phone. It was Jim Craig. The goalie knew that Lowe had been blasted in his most recent game. Craig told him that the 1980 U.S. boys had been hammered by the Soviets 10-3 in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden just 3 days before the Lake Placid Games. They were able to come back from that and beat the Soviets 4-3 less than 2 weeks later.

Craig told Lowe to focus on one inning at a time and not to think about 6 or 7 strong innings. Craig always broke hockey periods down into 5 minute periods, and he had a ritual of taking his uniform off and on in between periods. This symbolized that whether he had played well or not, that period was over and a new one was on its way.

Lowe went out and pitched a whale of a game and the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 to go to the World Series, which they would win.

Epstein continued to compare Sox quest to the 1980 one. Boston built a 3 games to none lead over St Louis in the World Series. Epstein made sure all the players knew that the Miracle on Ice team did NOT win the gold when they beat the Soviets 4-3. They still had to beat Finland 2 days later, and had they lost to Finland and had the USSR beat Sweden, the Soviets would have won gold and the U.S. would have not won a medal!

Theo Epstein has risen to the top of his profession because of doing unique things like connecting with the culture of the Miracle on Ice team. That 1980 team accomplished the greatest sports moment in United States sports history. Are you utilizing their incredible story in your program and in your recruiting?

Many of the Red Sox players had no idea of the whole story of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. Many college athletes today know very little of the whole backstory.

I can help you equip your coaches and players with the powerful tools for championship success, with the backstory of the greatest team sports accomplishment in U.S. history.

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’ Miracle On IceMonday, January 5th, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

As you are building a program, or trying to get the kind of impact recruits that will be program changers, I wanted to share some things about the Miracle on Ice of 1980 that can inspire you.

When Herb Brooks’ team took to the ice against Sweden in the opening game of the 1980 Winter Olympics, there were several thousand empty seats in the 7,700 seat arena. Hardly any media was there. They were off covering what they felt were more important things. There was a guy from the 500 watt radio station in nearby Saranac, New York and a few print reporters.

Al Michaels and Ken Dryden did the game for ABC. Between them they had called a whopping one game..ever.

Less than two weeks later, there would be 11,000 jammed in the 7,700 seat arena with New York state troopers having to keep others from trying to somehow get inside. Forty million people would be watching on ABC as Herb’s boys took on the Soviet dynasty team. The President would send Air Force One to bring them to The White House a few days later.

They went from being unrecognized on the streets of Lake Placid with no autograph requests and thousands of empty seats at the Sweden game, to Mike Eruzione being signed to a $30,000 speaking contract for IBM the day after the Games. Every player was given a parade. They became, literally, national heroes.

When you think about what that team accomplished in beating the Soviets 4-3 and then winning gold, it is staggering:

* Greatest sports moment of the century in the United States. You can make that all time as there was nothing in the 1800’s and nothing 15 years into this century to compare.

* Greatest upset ever. Some say the 1950 USA 1-0 win over England in the World Cup was the greatest upset ever, but not many know of that Miracle on Grass because Team USA lost to Chile in the next round and did not make it out of the first round.

* Greatest sports call ever in “Do you believe in miracles, yes!’ Whenever fans are polled on the greatest call ever, Al Michaels’ call wins in
overwhelming fashion.

* Most famous Sports Illustrated cover. In over 60 years, S.I. has only had one issue with no caption, and it was of them. Why? Because the editor said everyone in America knew their story.

All of this came through recruiting. While it was a little different than when he was recruiting high school players while as a coach at the University of Minnesota, Herb had to recruit his Olympic team in many ways. And like you don’t get them all in recruiting, neither did Herb. He really wanted Joe Mullen, star at Boston College, but Joe’s Dad had died and the family needed the NHL signing money, so he had to go that way. He would become the first American player to score 500 goals and to reach 1,000 points in his NHL career. Imagine what our 1980 team would have been like with him on it.

Herb did know there were certain players he had to get, like defenseman Ken Morrow and scoring ace Mark Johnson, and he got them. Without them, there would have been no win over the Soviets.

So no matter where your program is now, think about how those boys went from totally unknown to national heroes in less than 2 weeks. What they did was NOT a miracle. It was earned. There were really good players on that team. It was not an all star team because Herb felt all star teams did not win. It was not a dream team, but a team of dreamers. Herb picked very talented players with the inner fire to somehow come up with a way to outscore the Soviets 4-3.

Use them as inspiration. When you really know their back story, I firmly feel you will feel there is nothing you cannot overcome or accomplish. Every college program should know their story. That is why I am dedicated to telling it, so that their fascinating journey lives on.

Featured Series: The Miracle Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, December 29th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

A lot of things impact recruiting, including work/life balance and interests away from the sport. As a parent of two children who went through the recruiting process, I always felt more comfortable with the college coach who was not all consumed by their sport.

Coach Herb Brooks of the Miracle on Ice team was extremely focused on his sport during his days as the University of Minnesota coach and then the Olympics and his various coaching stops. His release was his love of shrubs and trees and landscaping. He knew the Latin terms for every tree and shrub he planted. He would get out there and plant and sometimes pull everything up and design it in a different way. His daughter Kelly would often be out there.

My mother was a professor at Duke and head of their Reading Dept. She had a lot of stress, but was like Herb in that she would go into her garden and get lost for hours there.

One thing that really helped Herb’s marriage to Patti was that she didn’t know a hockey puck from a grapefruit, so when he came home he left hockey at the office. They could needle each other with the best of them. She would kid him that he loved hockey more than her. He would come back with “Yeah, that may be true, but I love you more than golf and hunting!”

Patti ‘got’ that Herb was destined for something legendary like the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. She joked that if she could be married to Herb Brooks, she could do anything. One time he bolted up in the middle of the night and said, “Honey, happy anniversary!” She rolled over and mumbled,
“Herb, it is my birthday!”

They would be married until death did they part, when he was killed in the car accident in 2003. Herb’s final couple of years in his mid 60’s were focused on his grandkids. If he had regrets it was that he was not there for his two children more when they were growing up. Dan and Kelly would look out the window towards the neighborhood road when they were little saying “The next car will be Daddy’s!” Most times, it was not.

Herb was a great Dad, though. His son and daughter have turned out to be remarkable people and his daughter Kelly told author Ross Bernstein that she made great grades and never drank or any of that stuff growing up because she wanted to make her Dad proud.

Herb put a lot into recruiting when he was at Minnesota. He would drive for hours in their terrible winter storms to see kids. That takes a lot of time. One of the things he did do right after winning the 1980 gold medal was take a job coaching a Swiss semi pro team for a year so that he could get closer with his family after so much was spent building that Miracle on Ice team. In Switzerland kids would go home for lunch so Herb would leave the office and be there for them.

Herb was like so many of you. He cared deeply about his program at Minnesota and taking it to new heights. He knew recruiting was the life blood and put a lot into it. He also had his gardening to help him with balance, and he was always talking to his players about the importance of knowing history. Goalie Jim Craig would sit up by him on the team bus during the 7 month journey to Lake Placid. Herb gave him the book The Greatest Salesman in the World, and Craig practically memorized it.

Recruits in Minnesota knew that playing for Herb Brooks would be hard, but they also knew he was a master at pulling greatness out of people, and that while a complex and complicated man, his depth and variety of interests made him intriguing to them and their parents.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, December 22nd, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

Confidence is one of the greatest assets in a recruit. Cockiness can be another matter. Sometimes there is a fine line between the two, and it has to be studied in recruiting.

Jim Craig, who would be the goalie of the historic Miracle on Ice team, had been stellar in high school but his lack of size scared D1 programs away. After a growth spurt and a year at Massasoit Junior College near Boston, his skills could not be ignored. Boston University coach Jack Parker recruited Craig but told him up front he already had a guy marked
as his starter and an offer to a standout recruit. Craig plainly said he understood, had seen them both, and it would be him that would be his goalie.

At that point a coach has to make a decision. Is this kid going to rock the boat of the culture of the program, or is that just plain confidence embedded in his very being. Craig had a massive belief in himself. Yes, he could agitate teammates at times by telling them where to go on ice and what to do while he was behind them on ice, but they put up with it by joking that he was a goalie and goalies were different. When he would start his pre game chatter, the Olympians would fire a few shots at his head to let him know to tone it down. This team had such chemistry that they all could make fun of each others quirky ways. At their Christmas gag gift party, they gave him ear plugs to hand out to everyone when he decided it was time to jabber on and on and on about his philosophy of goal tending.

He would become the main starter at Boston University and lead them to a stock pile of wins (55-10-3). As a junior he went 16-0-0 and led Boston University to the D1 national title. Behind him they dominated their rivalry with B.C.

Though some experts had several college goalies rated ahead of him as pro prospect, coach Herb Brooks saw the fire within him and rode him the whole way in Lake Placid.

Craig’s NHL career was just 30 games. Maybe he wasn’t the right player for the NHL, but Herb knew he was the right player for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. Herb knew how to push the buttons of each player and with Craig he tweaked him just before Lake Placid, saying he was going to sit him after the 61 game exhibition slate where Craig had started almost all games.

“Your curve ball is hanging,” Herb told him. “I rode you too long.” This set off Craig, but Herb knew that was the last thing he needed to do to him to have him primed for the 7 games at the Games. Craig would allow less than 3 goals per game, including his stunning performance against the Soviet dynasty team.

After the game Craig went up to Herb and put his finger in his chest and told him that he had showed him. “Yes you did, Jim,” Herb responded. “Yes you did.”

Jim Craig’s confidence came because he had put in massive hours through childhood to develop the skills to stop the puck. As a little boy growing up in North Easton, Massachusetts they didn’t have enough money at first for a hockey chest protector, so he used a baseball one. They had to borrow skates and he shoved card board paper in their to fill the space. His Mom would take him to nearby Boston where he would sit in goal for hours against bigger kids, and then come home and take more shots. After awhile, he got to the point where he was stunned when a puck would get past him. It wasn’t cockiness, but an extreme inner belief that no one could or should score against him.

Besides being extremely confident Craig also did something you may want to suggest to your athletes. He broke each 20 minute period down to 5 minute slots, focusing on just the 5 minutes, and in between each period he would take off his uniform in the locker room and put it back on, signifying that whether he had played well or not last period, it was over and time to move forward.

One of the most irritating things in sports is the cocky athlete that really can’t back it up, but there is nothing wrong with the extremely confident player like Jim Craig.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceSunday, December 14th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheiFireWithin.com

You need to sign talent in recruiting and then develop it. Yes, there are many other factors, but talent is a biggie. The movie Miracle ends with captions of what happened to the players from the gold medal-winning 1980 US Olympic hockey team. What Disney showed was what they did as far as ‘real jobs in the real world’ and did not show that over half of the 1980 team would play in the NHL, some for many years. It was like in a subtle way the director wanted the audience to think these guys weren’t good enough to have been pros, when in fact just over half were NHL caliber.

There is a perception out there that Herb Brooks drove around with a bus and got some hockey guys and went to Lake Placid and beat the mighty Soviets 4-3. The reality is he had a lot of really talented players with physical gifts.

Buzz Schneider could run a 4.2 in the 40. Bill Baker looked like he had stepped off a Viking ship. Mark Pavelich was quicker than a butterfly with hiccups. Ken Morrow was a 6’4 sentry of a defenseman who would win four straight Stanley Cups with the Islanders right after the Olympic run.

When I work with college programs, my point is that it was NOT a miracle back in 1980. It was EARNED. There is no reason that every college program cannot reach their dreams because that team showed it was possible. After really hearing their backstory, your players and coaches will feel there is NOTHING they cannot accomplish and NOTHING they cannot overcome.

The players Herb basically recruited to the Olympic team were not as skilled as the Soviets. Herb knew he couldn’t match their skills in seven months so he focused on maximum conditionging. “We may not be the best team in Lake Placid,” Herb would say, “but we WILL be the best conditioned.”

Herb would tell them that they did not have enough talent to win on talent alone. He didn’t mean they had to get more talented to beat the Soviets and Czechs, but they had to become a total and complete team, have the ability to take advantage of opportunities, and be in Sparta-like condition.

“You don’t put greatness in people. You pull it out.” Herb always said that and he pulled it out of them over 7 months from July 1979 to February of 1980. He would say, “Men, I appreciate your talents and therefore I am going to maximize them.”

When Herb brought the 60-plus players to Colorado Springs in July of 1979 that would be whittled to 20 just before Lake Placid, he brought a lot of talent in. But as I have said before, he was looking for the right players and not the best players. Here is an example from my background. I was a TV News sports director at local stations for 25 years, including South Bend, Bakersfield and New Orleans. When I was in South Bend many top line sports reporters wanted to work at the CBS station I was at because Notre Dame football was on a tear from 1988 to 1993. I would get job applications from guys in big markets and pro sports backgrounds. I would listen to them, but would always hire a guy from a smaller college with a more humble background. That was the right guy. The best guys, the ones with the big names from having played pro ball, would be happy in Notre Dame football season, but I knew once I asked them to grab a TV news camera and drive to Bremen High to shoot girls basketball in the dead of winter, they would recoil in horror. Instead, I hired guys like Dean Huppert who had played tennis at D2 Univ of Indianapolis, and Greg
Carroll, who had played soccer at Xavier, and Greg Kerr who had played baseball at VCU. In over 25 years, I had people call in sick less than ten
days. That’s because they cared. And, they were very talented. People like Dan Tudor, who was a sports reporter for me at KBAK TV in Bakersfield and would go on and develop his Selling for Coaches program.

So, like Herb, in recruiting go for talent, but the right kind of talent. Don’t buy into the myth that the Miracle on Ice team was a lucky thing that happened. They earned it. Sure, the Soviets probably ‘won’ that 4-3 game in that they out shot the U.S. boys 39-16, but Herb had put together enough talent that was opportunistic enough to outscore them.

And in the end, in the big game that is all that matters.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Some Must Reads About The “Miracle On Ice”Monday, December 8th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

College coaches often like to read books on coaching legends before them. In my research on how the Miracle on Ice happened, besides trips to Lake Placid and interviewing those connected to it, I have read and re-read every book out there on it. What’s ironic is that because it became such a huge event back in 1980, the nation’s top media was there. As a result, many remarkably talented writers have documented their story.

As I have said here before, Herb Brooks was a top D1 coach for 7 years at Minnesota before taking over the Olympic team. In several books his recruiting strategies are shared. There is a wealth of insights that can help college coaches today in recruiting and beyond.

One book I suggest is ‘Herb Brooks : The Inside Story of a Hockey Mastermind.’ It is by John Gilbert, the sports writer that covered Herb, his recruiting and much more.

‘America’s Coach: Life Lessons and Wisdom for Gold Medal Success: A Biographical Journey of the Late Hockey Icon Herb Brooks’ is another book I highly suggest you have as Ross Bernstein also gets into Herb’s philosophies of recruiting and building a program. Bernstein also includes texts of many of Herb’s motivational talks, and they are priceless. Bernstein has also written ‘Remembering Herbie’ which really gets into the remarkable impact Herb had on people through relationships. Recruiting is all about building relationships.

The brilliantly talented writer Wayne Coffey wrote a New York Times bestseller called ‘The Boys of Winter’ which gets into the back story of the players and their families and their remarkable dedication to the craft of skating and hockey. I have read that book 6 times and find it fascinating. It would be a great read for you over Christmas.

The book ‘One Goal’ by John Powers and Art Kaminsky really goes behind the scenes on the sculpting of that Miracle team. What I have found is that all these books offer different perspectives and each has gems in them that can be valuable to college coaches and athletes.

‘Going for the Gold’ by Tim Wendel was written not long after 1980 and has timeless tools in it on how Herb recruited not the best players out there, but the right players.

When I ordered some of these older books, I was saddened to see that some of the used copies I got used to be in libraries, and had been discontinued in those libraries. It has been 35 years since Lake Placid and if we are not careful we are going to start to lose their story. I was a sports anchor for a quarter of a century and have followed sports closely for 40 years, and never have I covered or found a story as fascinating as their story. When I speak, I often ask groups if they remember it. Many over 50 do remember where they were. Younger people have seen the movie Miracle, but so many either don’t know of their story or have no idea how powerful it is.

I find college athletes that hear my research on them become enthralled with how their team came together to record the greatest moment in United States sports history. They come away feeling there is no team that they cannot defeat and nothing they cannot overcome.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Herb Brooks: The “ULTIMATE” Recruiting JobMonday, December 1st, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

Herb Brooks did the ultimate recruiting when he brought together the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. All of the players were either college players, or had played college fairly recently.

As I have written about here before, Mike Eruzione was a pivotal part of the team. Years ago John Powers and Art Kominsky wrote a book entitled One Goal about how that team was brought together. Regarding Eruzione, they wrote “he had everything coaches say they want in an athlete” –

* Drive
* Resiliency
* Team loyalty
* Instinct for the big play

Those are four key factors in recruiting, especially instinct for the big play.

Leadership is critical and there are conflicting reports about how Eruzione was made captain of that team. Herb let the team vote, and Buzz Schneider was a very popular player. He would have made an excellent captain as well, and the players thought he would be voted in, but it came out as Eruzione. Some of the players thought Herb had pulled an Idi Amin. He denied it. Who knows, but Eruzione as captain was brilliant.

This week I also wanted to write about the importance of motivation in recruiting and in winning in college athletics. Herb Brooks said this: “Motivation is the energy that makes everything work. It is clearly the single most critical part of performance.”

Herb had all kinds of motivational stories and tools he used in recruiting and in the development of his teams at the University of Minnesota (3 NCAA titles in 7 seasons) and the Olympic hockey team. As a longtime motivational speaker who has done hundreds of talks in high school settings, I can tell you that young people respond to powerful motivational stories.

When Herb told the team just before the historic game vs the Soviets that they were born to be hockey players and meant to be there, he delivered one of the greatest messages in sports history. Mark Johnson scored with :01 to go at the end of the 1st period to tie it at 1 because of that speech. He never let up because his coach had basically told him that it had been written in some book centuries ago that they were destined to be there.

Mike Lightfoot is a hall of fame NAIA basketball coach at Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. Go in his office and you will find shelves of motivational materials he has used for decades. His teams have won multiple national championships and he has developed many fine young men. Having brought in my workshop on lessons we can learn from the Miracle on Ice boys, one of the things he has told his team over and over is that “legs feed the wolf.”

Herb used to always say that in getting his teams to optimum conditioning.

Next week I will write about the best books out there on how the Miracle on Ice came to be — books that every college coach should have on their shelves.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brook’s Miracle On IceMonday, November 24th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

As Coach Herb Brooks scouted, recruited and molded the Miracle on Ice team he was faced with one challenge after another. While some coaches may feel they can win despite not having certain players, Herb knew there were some he had to have, especially to beat a team like the Soviets.

The player that would turn out to be one of the best, if not the best on the team, was Mark Johnson. He had just finished a brilliant 4 years at the University of Wisconsin, tormenting Herb’s Minnesota team many times. The challenge was that Mark’s college coach was Badger Bob Johnson, Mark’s dad and Herb’s arch nemesis. The University of Minnesota and Wisconsin were 300 miles apart, so they were regional rivals. Both were national title contenders each year. They were fierce rivals. Herb and Badger Bob were polar opposites. Badger Bob was peppy like Richard Simmons, always optimistic and sunshine filled. Herb was….Herb.

So, as the team is flying to Europe for a stretch of exhibition games Herb lined up for September of 1979, Herb has a ‘situation.’ Badger Bob is back home thinking that the rivalry is so intense that Herb is liable to cut his son Mark to spite Badger Bob. Herb is thinking Badger Bob might have Mark quit so he could spite Herb. Poor Mark Johnson doesn’t know what to think! During the flight, Herb sat down next to Mark and said that he was a virtual lock to make the team, and that they would go as far as he could take them.

Mark was stunned. In an instant Herb had clarified the Badger Bob/Herb drama AND infused a massive jolt of confidence in Mark. Against the Soviets Mark would score 2 of the 4 goals. With :02 to go in the first period and Team USA down 2-1, Mark scored right before the buzzer to tie the game at 2-2, leading the Soviets to bench legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak. He did it because he was fueled by Herb’s pre game speech, telling the team they were born to be hockey players and they were meant to be there that night. Mark believed what he said, like it had been written in a book centuries ago they were meant to be there that night. He would become their best player. Teammates would nickname him Mark ‘Magic’ Johnson as a certain Laker was having a remarkable 1979-80 stretch as well.

While Herb could play mind games with players with the best of them, he also knew when to clearly communicate where players stood, like he did with Mark. He also did this with Steve Janaszak, the back up goalie. Steve had been 1st team NCAA All American the previous year playing goalie for Herb’s University of Minnesota team. Steve led them to the NCAA championship and was named MVP. Despite his accolades and the fact that experts had at least 5 other college goalies rated above Jim Craig, Herb went with Jim every second of all 7 games at Lake Placid. Before, though, he went to Steve and told him there was a strong chance he was going to ride Jim the whole way. Steve appreciated that, and as I will write in a future story here, was the ultimate team supporter there.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, November 17th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

You win college championships when you recruit players like Jack O’Callahan.

The greatest moment in United States sports history was when the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the dynasty Soviet team in Lake Placid, NY, and then won Gold two days later. They did it because Coach Herb Brooks had molded teams with players such as O’Callahan.

O’Callahan grew up in Charlestown, Massachusetts by Boston. His house was close to Bunker Hill. O’Callahan’s approach to sports was Bunker Hill. In 1775 greatly outnumbered Patriot soldiers twice held back the Redcoats. Not until the third wave did they have to retreat. In the process they took out half the British forces.

O’Callahan graduated fifth from Latin High School in Boston, the oldest public school in America. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams went there. Smart as a whip, O’Callahan also had a burning passion for hockey and to win a national championship. Harvard offered him. He turned them down for Boston University because he felt they offered a better chance for a great education and a national title.

O’Callahan lost about ten teeth and had around 100 stitches during his BU days. He left it all out there, and was an incredible inspiration to his teammates. He truly took the Bunker Hill approach.

Olympic coach Herb Brooks had done extensive research of college players while he was coach at the University of Minnesota. He had made countless calls to college coaches to learn things like the fire within of O’Callahan. During the seven month stretch of training for the February 1980 Games, Brooks went to him and said that when he yelled at him while calling him O’Cee (his nickname) he was speaking to the whole team, but when he yelled at him saying Jack he was getting on him.

After 61 exhibition games, their last was in Madison Square Garden vs the powerful Soviets three days before the Olympics. Team USA got whalloped 10-3 and O’Callahan suffered a knee injury. It looked pretty bad. Herb had to submit the 20 player Olympic roster in 48 hours, a roster that could not be changed. The Team USA committee pressured him to bring in someone else. After a few diagnos’ on the knee, one Doctor said there was a chance he could play after a couple of games if therapy went right.

Herb went to O’Callahan and told him there were 19 other guys looking for him to do what was best for the team. O’Cee nodded, sadly. Herb then said that was why he was going to keep him on the roster. If he couldn’t play then his fire and passion would be important. O’Callahan was beyond jubilant.

Mike Eruzione said later that move was huge in them winning gold. It sent such a jolt of positivity through them, as they had become such a family.

O’Callahan did miss a couple of games, but played the rest of the way. He was not 100% but he was out there. He paid the price. He had to give up his first season of NHL hockey because of playing on the wounded knee. He could have risked his entire pro future had he had it hurt again, but he wanted to be there for his team.

Recruiting players like Jack O’Callahan are pivotal in building championship college programs.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

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