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 email@example.com