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.