by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com
Just a few weeks ago, after extensive research, Sports Illustrated came out with the Top 100 Sports Moments in American history. The 1980 Miracle on Ice was named the greatest sports moment of all time.
When you think about that, it is staggering considering all of the remarkable sports accomplishments in the U.S. That Herb Brooks, after seven years of coaching college, could take a group of 20 true amateurs and beat professional Soviets, who fielded their best ever over all team in Lake Placid.
Having been around sports closely now as a broadcaster, anchor, writer and speaker for 40 years, I believe not only was it the greatest sports moment, but also the single greatest coaching accomplishment. Not overall career, but what Brooks did leading up to and in the seven months he had that team.
It can be argued as the greatest upset ever in sports, the 4-3 win over the Soviets. Legendary ABC announcer Jim McKay said it was, up until the day he died. Historian and author Wayne Coffey has said goalie Jim Craig stopping 36 of 39 Soviet shots was arguably the greatest performance ever under pressure (Cold War, America in the dumps).
What I have often found myself wondering is why is it not studied more by coaches, especially at the college level? After extensive research, I have been delivering my insights on the template the past two years mainly to corporate audiences. What I have found is while many of them are inspired by and learn from the story, the target audience should be college coaches and athletes. You see, of the many corporate events I have done, you have the leader that is into it and the top sales people and the extra driven employees, often former athletes. I have also found that many employees are content to do their job and get to retirement. To be frank, many are taken aback by the fire within of Herb Brooks. They can’t or won’t relate to the incredible drive of him and that team.
On the other end, college coaches get him. They get his passion and desire to not put greatness into players but pull it out of them. They get his work ethic and drive for team, that he didn’t want a dream team but a team of dreamers.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sharing their incredible story with companies, schools and churches, but the other day driving back from delivering this to an Indianapolis company at their annual off-site meeting, I thought to myself, “I have got to prioritize college athletic programs. They are the ones that get this most!”
The vast majority of college athletes and many coaches don’t truly know how the Miracle on Ice happened, and how it was not a miracle, but earned. And there’s nothing wrong with that because it happened 36 years ago. I am 53 now so I remember it vividly as a 12th grader in Oxford, MS. Some younger people know it from the Kurt Russell movie Miracle, but that came out in 2004 and did not have the time to get into what Brooks did as a college coach and so many other things.
I have developed a specific college coaches and players program where I come in for part of a day and deliver my extensive research from many trips to Lake Placid, many interviews, over 1500 articles and all 15 books written on it, and more. There are powerful life changing insights. Not just from the USA side, but how Soviet hockey became the top sports dynasty in the world for decades. Insights like from Soviet hockey architect Anatoli Tarasov, who wanted his players to have the accuracy of a sniper, the wisdom of a chess player, and the rhythm of a musician.
This program is designed to help athletes truly understand what total team commitment is, as that 1980 USA Olympic hockey team was the greatest true team ever in American sports, as far as buying into what TEAM truly means.
“As spectacular a program for college programs as I have seen in 40 years.” – Bob Bayliss, College Tennis Hall of Fame, former Notre Dame and Navy Coach
“Our players got so much out of this as far as what it means to be a team, and the power of work ethic. ‘Legs feed the wolf’ is what coach Brooks said. Thank you, Charlie!” – Mike Lightfoot, NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame,
Bethel College coach