On February 22, 1980, 37 years ago today, a miracle on ice occurred in Lake Placid, New York. A United States men’s hockey team, comprised of collegiate and amateur players, took on the Soviet Union in an Olympic game to determine which team would advance to the gold medal round. The Soviets, whom had been the victors in six of the seven previous Games, seemed unstoppable. It was unthinkable to even dream that a group of misfits from America could beat them…but they did. Team USA scored 4 goals to the Soviet’s 3. As they held their opponents off in the final seconds of the last period, broadcaster Al Michaels fittingly exclaimed: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” Those words are known by anyone who loves this country, loves the spirit of the Olympic Games, and, of course, by anyone who loves hockey. It was one of the most memorable sports calls ever at one of the most important games in our country’s history. The feeling of pride in our nation is overwhelming when we hear those six beautiful words. Team USA went on to win the gold medal in their final game against Finland, and the Soviets finished with the silver by defeating Sweden.
The group of men who brought this country to victory in 1980 did not appear to be anything special. They weren’t extraordinary players individually, but they came together, and with the leadership and guidance of the incredible Coach Herb Brooks, accomplished something that seemed impossible. They knew that hard work and dedication could get them where they needed to be. They were relentless in their pursuit towards the Olympics, and they wanted nothing more than to prove that the United States was a force to be reckoned with.
Growing up, my brother Nick played ice hockey for the New Jersey Freeze. He and his team would travel to Lake Placid, NY for hockey tournaments each year. They dressed in the same locker room as those courageous men before them, and even got to play on that same ice. The magic of the arena can be felt the moment you lay eyes upon it. Though I was young the times that we went to these tournaments, I do remember bits and pieces of the games that my brother played in. I remember looking at the arena before going inside and marveling at its immense size. I did not know just how important it was to have the opportunity to walk those hallowed halls and sit in those famous stands then, but I am grateful to remember and appreciate those trips now. I can only imagine what it meant to the New Jersey Freeze to be able to actually play there.
So, today, if you feel down and like you can’t possibly manage the tasks that are on your plate, try and remember the 1980 miracle hockey team. They forged the way for children and adults alike to reach for the stars and dream that anything is possible. Their legacy is proof that miracles absolutely can happen. You just have to be willing to make sacrifices, dedicate yourself whole heartedly to what you believe in, and, most importantly, work harder than you ever thought possible. The point is, those men weren’t the most talented players to ever grace the sport of hockey, they just came together and worked incredibly hard; and with their work ethic…they created a miracle.
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