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What Story Does Your Locker Room Tell?Monday, March 2nd, 2015

lockerroom emptyby Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

In almost 40 years of being around sports closely, as a broadcast journalist and now seminar leader, I have had the opportunity to visit many of our sports mecca’s in America.

Lake Placid ranks right up there. Actually, the only two times I have had actual goosebumps were my first time on the grounds of Augusta National during Masters week, and my first visit to Team USA’s locker room in Lake Placid.

Above is a picture I took of when I first visited the famous locker room where coach Herb Brooks told his team, “You were born to be hockey players, every one of you. You were meant to be here tonight. This moment is yours.”

Just above you can see a beam where the stands were literally just above them, and where 11,000 people had crammed into a 7,700 seat arena, chanting USA, USA, USA! Al Michaels, then 35, said the chant originated there during the Czech game earlier in the Games.

Many of you don’t have the best of facilities. When you go in that locker room, it is startling how small it is and how little room there was for the trainer to work. How 20 young men and a coaching staff did their work in there is inspiring. They have kept it just as it was, and it is no doubt a bucket list destination for those that love sports history.

When you recruit athletes, you want the kind of young people that can handle the variety of emotions that will happen in a locker room. After the 1st period of their first game vs Sweden, when they trailed 1-0, Herb Brooks knew he had to light a fire under his team. Had they lost to the Swedes, they had the 2nd seeded Czechs next. A loss to them too, and kiss the medal round and possible Soviet game goodbye. Brooks knew player Rob McLanahan had taken his uniform off from a deep thigh bruise and Doc had ruled him out. After finding out playing on it would not further injure it, Brooks challenged him to put his gear back on, and then took a verbal swipe at his affluent background. McLanahan came at Brooks, they had to be separated, and fell out into the hallway to the Sweden locker room area. McLanahan came back in, gimpy, and the US salvaged a 2-2 tie.

In that locker room, Brooks had a variety of talks. He was soothing before the Soviet game, his words carefully constructed to reaffirm to them that it was their destiny to be there. During the Norway game, when the team had struggled out of the gate, he simply told them they could do better and kept it short and sweet. Before the final period of the Finland game, trailing 2-1, he kept his talk to less than 15 seconds, saying, “You lose this game, you take it to your graves.” He went back out and back in and said, “To your graves.”

thirty five jerseys in lockerroom

Take a trip to your locker room sometime and reflect on the various talks you have given there over time and the emotions that have ranged from coaches to players. Think about the kind of young person that can take the highs and lows. Rob McLanahan, though infuriated, hobbled back to the ice three minutes into the next period and played the rest of the way basically on one leg. When out of the game, he stayed as far away from Brooks as possible. Ever the team guy, he missed the Opening Ceremonies the next day to get treatment on his leg to get as healthy as possibe as soon as possible for his team. Today, he is on the board of directors of the Herb Brooks Foundation.

Your facilities may not be the greatest. They may be pretty bad, but the greatest moment in United States sports history happened in a hole in the wall locker room in Lake Placid, New York, with a couple of bathroom stalls and a small table for the trainer. When all 19 surviving players returned to Lake Placid last week for the first time as a team since 1980,
they went in that locker room and smiled. They wouldn’t have had it any other way.

(note – the locker room in the movie Miracle was shot in Canada and is way nicer and bigger than the real thing)

The 35th Anniversary Of The Miracle On IceMonday, February 23rd, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

For coaches out there reading this today, Tuesday, this is the actual 35th anniversary date of the ending of the Miracle on Ice. On Febuary 24th, 1980 coach Herb Brook’s USA team rallied to beat Finland 4-2.

“The impossible dream comes true,” said ABC’s Al Michaels, two days after his famous “Do you believe in miracles?!” call.

The 19 surviving players returned to Lake Placid Saturday night. It was the first time the whole surviving team was back in Lake Placid since 1980. No doubt, one reason they made sure to return was the realization of mortality. Bob Suter became the first player to die back in September when he died of a heart attack at age 57. He was at his rink in Madison, WI where he helped so many kids.

Every coach dreams of assembling a team that reaches the pinnacle like the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. I can’t emphasize enough how important the psychological part of it is. Shortly after Brooks died in a car crash in August of 2003, former Soviet star Slava Fetisov wrote a wonderful tribute to him that the New York Times read. Fetisov wrote, “he was one of the first to prove that a modern coach is first of all a wonderful pschologist.”

When Slava speaks, people listen. Wayne Gretzkey felt Slava was one of the two best defenders he ever faced, saying Slava could skate backwards and sideways faster than he could forward. Slava was so good an asteroid was named after him.

Brooks’ degree in psychology and his emphasis of that area enabled him to recruit players at the college and Olympic level that were incredible at coming through at opportune times. He also knew exactly how to push the different buttons.

Psychology and motivation are so important in building a team and championships. Here is Herb Brooks on it:

“Motivation is the energy that makes everything work. It is clearly the single most critical part of performance.”

Herb Brooks had different motivational talks for every game in Lake Placid. They ranged from confronting Rob McLanahan after the first period of the sluggish Sweden game to where they had a near fight, to his compassionate ‘you were born to be here’ talk before the Soviet game, when his boys were on edge. Then, trailing Finland 3-2 before the final period in the gold medal game, he merely walked in and said, “You lose this game, you take it to your $@*# grave”. He walked back out, and back in, and said, “To your !@$%! grave.” And left.

Team USA destroyed Finland in the final period of the gold medal game, rallying from 3-2 down to win 4-2. Scoring the winning goal was Rob McLanahan, who was so enraged at herb during that Sweden fiasco that he had to be separated. Today, McLanahan is on the board of directors of the Herb Brooks Foundation, has coached Herb’s grandkids, and will tell anyone no other coach could have done what Herb did back in 1980.

Being a wonderful psychologist and understanding nothing is more important than motivation. That comes from Slava Fetisov and Herb Brooks.

Today is the 35th anniversary of it all. If you would, please take a minute to Like the Herb Brooks Foundation on Facebook, as they do so much wonderful work to help young people.

It Pays To Go With Your GutMonday, February 16th, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

When legendary former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith died recently, one of my first thoughts was a connection he had to coach Herb Brooks of the Miracle on Ice in how they built a particular team.

In 1976, Dean Smith was head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. He raised eyebrows when he went with four of his current Carolina players as well as having seven ACC players out of the roster of twelve.

The Carolina and ACC players were:

Phil Ford        North Carolina
Mitch Kupchak    North Carolina
Tommy LaGarde    North Carolina
Walter Davis     North Carolina
Kenny Carr       North Carolina State
Steve Sheppard   Maryland
Tate Armstrong   Duke

They won gold, beating Yugoslavia 95-74 in the gold medal game.

In 1980, Herb Brooks was head coach of the soon-to-be famous U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. He left his job as head coach at the University of Minnesota to take over.

Herb raised eyebrows too when he went nine of his Univ of Minnesota boys and two others from Minnesota-Duluth. Eleven of the twenty were from Minnesota.

Mike Ramsey      Minnesota
Rob McLanahan    Minnesota
Bill Baker       Minnesota
Dave Christian   Minnesota
Neal Broten      Minnesota
Steve Christoff  Minnesota
Steve Janaszak   Minnesota
Buzz Schneider   Minnesota
Eric Strobel     Minnesota
John Harrington  Minnesota-Duluth
Mark Pavelich    Minnesota-Duluth

They won gold, beating the dynasty Soviet team 4-3 in the semi finals along the way. Sports Illustrated named what they did as the greatest U.S. sports moment of the 20th century.

I was living in Durham, North Carolina in 1976 when Dean Smith built that team and I remember the howls from around the basketball nation about how he was favoring his Tar Heels and the ACC.

When Herb Brooks put together the Olympic team, he caught heat for going with a whopping nine who were playing for him then or had at the University of Minnesota.

Both went with their heart, instincts, sport knowledge, and determination to build the best team possible.

What is interesting is that Dean Smith’s team had 7 of 12 from the ACC, but the two best players in the 1976 Games were Adrian Dantley of Notre Dame and Scott May of Indiana. Dean obviously built things to where those two were far and away the top two options on offense. Dantley averaged 19 points a game while May averaged 17.

With Herb, even though he had all those Minnesota guys, Mike Eruzione of Boston University was the captain and Jim Craig was the goalie. Those are the two most important positions/titles on a team. Herb also had a 1st team All American for him at Minnesota on that team in Steve Janaszak. He never played Janascak a second in the Games, going with Craig all the way. Also, his best offensive player was Mark Johnson of Wisconsin. One time on a plane Herb told Mark that the team goes about as far as he takes them. He scored two of the four goals in the historic 4-3 win over the Soviets.

It’s like Herb and Dean knew their North Carolina and Minnesota area guys may not rack up stats or dominate, but their core would be familiar to them as coaches and they knew what they could do.

What they did is somewhat like that college coach that leans heavily on a certain club system or certain high school or conference. That coach may take some heat, but in the end you have to go with your evaluations, heart, instinct and determination to build a team that is best fit to win a championship. You may not make everyone happy, and others may think you are showing favoritism, but as Dean Smith and Herb Brooks showed, they were doing what was best.

Gearing Up For The Miracle On Ice AnniversaryMonday, February 9th, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

Many of you, depending on the sport, have been signing athletes to National Letters of Intent this month. As they commit to a college, they are at the height of dreaming. They are thinking big things such as championships, making life long friends, being made better by their coaches, and maybe evening doing the unthinkable! You may have a program that has never reached a certain height. Maybe their class will be the ones to get there.

The 35th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice is this month. February 22nd will be the anniversary of the 4-3 win over the Soviets. February 24th will be 35 years since Herb’s boys beat Finland 4-2 in the gold medal game.

The magnitude of it can never be lost. When you think about it, it is staggering that many observe it as:

*Greatest moment in U.S. sports history – Sports Illustrated named it the greatest moment of the 20th century and nothing bigger has happened since!
*Greatest upset in U.S. sports history
*Greatest sports call ever – “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
*Greatest Sports Illustrated cover ever – the only one to go without a caption because everyone in America knew about it.

Think about that. Even Super Bowl and Final Four and World Series issues need captions because millions of Americans are not dialed in. But back then, everyone was into it. I was a 17 year old 12th grader in Oxford,
Mississippi, where we had never seen a hockey game, and yet we went nuts about what they did in Lake Placid, NY.

While many young people have seen the movie Miracle, a lot of 18 and 19 year olds, the ages of your recruits have not seen it. I did my program on it for a small college program recently and hardly any of the athletes knew of their story. You may want to encourage them to, or set up a time for everyone to watch ‘Miracle.’

As you mold your recruits into your programs, remind them that Herb Brooks did not build a dream team, but a team of dreamers. He had a team with big egos, just like many of your recruits have big egos, but he did not have ego problems.

That 1980 team started the slide that ended Communism in the Soviet Union, saved the Winter Olympics from being terminated by the IOC, and galvanized a nation. Sure, no college program can come close to that, but as you develop your recruits why not set a goal to be significantly involved in the community and to make a lasting difference in a particular charity? Why not take dead aim on starting the process that ends bullying in your local schools?

As you continue to rate recruits for your next cycle, remember to never lose sight of heart and grit. Goalie Jim Craig was barely recruited out of high school and many experts had 5 or 6 college goalies rated above him, but Herb rode him the whole Olympic way because he was the right player, not the best player. Author Wayne Coffey said it was arguably the greatest performance under pressure in the annals of Olympic history and that it forever redefined the parameters of athletic possibility.

Mike Eruzione, who scored the winning goal vs the Soviets and was a great captain, had no D1 interest out of high school until one school stepped up summer after his high school senior year. That was Boston University, and they ended up with a young man who smashed many of their records and terrorized schools that had overlooked him in recruiting.

In recruiting, it is a combination of getting blue chip kids and finding those kids that are 2 or 3 stars with the fire within. Herb built his Olympic team with studs and with some kids that other experts on the Committee wondered why he was going with them. He had done extensive evaluation over two years, calling all kinds of credible sources, and
watching extensive film.

He recruited a lot of really talented players. Over half would play in the NHL. The one thing about the movie Miracle that I am not crazy about is at the end when they show little profiles of the players, they only put up what they did in regular life, like working for financial companies. It was almost as if Disney didn’t want the movie viewers to know that these kids were good enough to play pro for many years, and wanted them to think Herb took a bunch of average college guys and stunned the world. Herb did raise their levels, as he always said you don’t put greatness into people
but you pull it out. But he also built his team with a good bit of talent.

So, as always it is a combo of recruiting strong talent along with talent that embraces roles, and getting them to dream.

This is a good month to talk to them about dreaming. Never limit your college program on what it can achieve.

“We should be dreaming. We grew up as kids having dreams, but now we’re too sophisticated as adults, as a nation. We stopped dreaming. We should always have dreams.” – Coach Herb Brooks

Bring The “Miracle On Ice” To Your CampusMonday, February 2nd, 2015

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com


For the last few months here I have been writing about how Herb Brooks recruited in college, assembled the Miracle on Ice team, and about how they were able to record the greatest moment in United States sports history.

This week I wanted to write to you about why I am so passionate about sharing their whole story.

I followed sports closely for 40 years and have been in it professionally for 30 as a sports anchor, writer and seminar leader. Along the way it hit me that with the Miracle on Ice being such a gigantic accomplishment, that story needs to be thoroughly researched so that coaches and players of today can continue to learn from it.

I have never found a story as fascinating as not only theirs, but the back story of Lake Placid, New York. In all my years of speaking, I have never seen audiences moved to such emotions while learning the whole story. There is great power in their journey.

Along the way it hit me that the audience that would benefit most from this would be college coaches and athletes. While those in corporate America don’t quite get the intensity of coach Herb Brooks, college coaches do. And sometimes we think so much about Herb and the Miracle on Ice, that we forget that this guy takes over an 8-24 University of Minnesota team and in two years has them NCAA D1 National Champions. In seven years, he won three of those. Imagine if he had stayed their 25 years? He would have probably won more national titles than John Wooden
did at UCLA.

College coaches, especially younger ones, can benefit greatly from knowing how Herb went from Insurance Sales to totally overhauling a college program to recruiting in ways years ahead of his time to marketing his program to packed crowds.

I think college athletes can be inspired by the remarkable work ethic of those 20 players from 1980. One player would do a full varsity practice at Minnesota-Duluth and then a full jv practice and then skate on loosely tied shoes after those two practices. College athletes can also be inspired by the 1980 teams total commitment to team. They had big egos,
but no ego problems. Their superstar backup goalie Steve Janaszak never played a second in Lake Placid, yet humbly sharpened the skates of teammates in between periods. Mike Eruzione’s leadership at captain was nothing short of historic.

I think why this connects so much to college athletic departments today is that back then Herb went with college players, average age 20. That they beat the Soviet dynasty team (with 4 of the 6 greatest hockey players ever on it) is staggering. The thing is, it was NOT A MIRACLE! It was earned. After learning how they did it, you will come away feeling there is nothing you cannot overcome or nothing you cannot do as a program.

The first Talk I ever gave was in May of 1980, three months after their run. I have delivered over 3000 since, and am on a mission with this one because of several reasons. It is loaded with timeless wisdom and inspiration for today’s college programs. Also, if we are not careful, the story will start to fade. It has been 35 years. I often find college athletes that don’t know about it, that even missed the movie Miracle.

I have a program where I come in and thoroughly describe to coaches how the whole thing happened, and one that I deliver with it that is for athletes. I look forward to bringing this to your athletic department!

“Our jaws were dropped after our coaches and athletes heard this program. Our athletes soaked up every bit of it. Charlie has a powerful program. It is one every college coach and athlete should learn from!” Mike Lightfoot, Bethel College men’s basketball coach (NAIA Hall of Fame and over 650 wins in 25 seasons)

For more information on bringing Charlie Adam’s “More Than A Miracle” program to you Athletic Department visit his website here.

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

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