by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com
Jim Craig’s family didn’t have enough money to get him a hockey chest protector when he was little, so he made do with a baseball catcher’s protector for awhile. He borrowed skates and put cardboard in them to fill the space.
Growing up in a home of 8 brothers and sisters and 1 bathroom near Boston, Jim had a dream of being in the Olympics one day. In 7th grade his teacher asked him what he was writing over and over. He said he was practicing his autograph for when he got to the Olympics.
His mother, Margaret, drove him to practice against older boys in nearby Boston when he was a 5’1″ middle schooler. She sharpened his skates and told him even small people make the Olympics.
As a 5’5″ 10th grader he kept working, practicing blocking hundreds of shots after practice. No major colleges wanted him so he played a year at a Massachusetts Community College. Boston University saw him and was interested but told him they had a veteran goalie and a star freshman coming in. He told them he had seen them both and they were good but that he was better.
He grew to 6’1″ and as a junior led Boston University to the National Championship. His mother became sick, though, and died of cancer. She made him promise to get his degree and if he had the chance to play in the Olympics. She said she would leave him her strength for when he needed it most.
Herb Brooks built the 1980 Miracle on Ice team not with the best players in the country but with the right ones. Experts had 5 goalies rated above Craig, but Herb saw the fire within and went with him every second of the Olympics. On Feb. 22, 1980 – George Washington’s birthday and the 30 year anniversary of the Disney movie ‘Cinderella’ – against a Soviet team many feel was the greatest hockey team ever assembled, Jim and his mother’s strength stopped 36 of 39 shots in the 4-3 win. 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.
One of the biggest points I try to get across in this new Talk is that the Miracle on Ice was not a miracle, but earned, and that every company, school and church organization out there is capable of amazing things if they follow their fascinating template. In his book Gold Medal Strategies goalie Jim Craig opens with this:
“Miracles are inspiring; they give us hope, support the notion that all is possible, and are the stuff of high level drama. What we accomplished on that sheet of ice in that village in the Adirondacks in upstate New York was all of that. But it was not a miracle – even if I believe in them. Highly improbable? Yep. Astounding? Maybe. Shocking? You could say that.
But not a miracle.
What we accomplished at Lake Placid was the result of a lot of hard work – and a lot of smart work. It was the result of exceptional and brilliant mentorship. It was the result of sublime execution and poise in competition. It was the result of one of the best demonstrations of team chemistry in history.” – Jim Craig, goalie, Team USA 1980
He then shares insights on their make up:
“If you look at the makeup of the team, and go into the formative years of each player and each coach, you will discover a history rich with caring parents and supportive mentors. You will find virtues and strong community. What you won’t find is a lot of money, luxury, indulgence, or downtime.
This upbringing was just the right clay and raw material from which could be molded and constructed a team that would work and sacrifice enough, would be tough enough, would have enough confidence, would not collapse under setback and defeat, which would have just enough respect for authority, and be just open and receptive enough to coaching and mentoring (while never sacrificing our edge and spirit), to take on the world and set a standard for overachievement.” – Jim Craig, goalie, 1980 Miracle on Ice team
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 firstname.lastname@example.org