Like many Americans (and especially hockey fans) my family was watching the Olympic hockey game between the USA and the Soviet Union teams that had taken place on Friday, February 22, 1980. This was NOT the gold medal game. It was a SEMI-FINAL game; which is important to note because the Americans would have to defeat another team the following Sunday to complete their quest for Olympic gold. For the American team to be on the same ice with the Soviet Union in 1980 was an achievement in and of itself.
The back story
This story really begins after the Olympic hockey team tryouts in August of 1979. The American team, made up of young and amateur players (some who had collegiate experience), began their Olympic journey under the leadership of the now immortal coach Herb Brooks. In contrast, the Soviet Union was essentially a team of professionals who had played together with overwhelming success for more than a decade. Added to this winning history is the fact that the Soviet Union was a four-time defending gold medal champion. It seemed insurmountable to beat a Soviet Union hockey team during this era.
To win your “Olympic Gold,” believe in what you want to accomplish and pursue it with the courage and work ethic to overcome any obstacle. – D. Corey Rieck
Remembering the time and space
As my mom, dad, grandparents, brother and me (I was 15 at the time) huddled in our Minnesota living room around the television, I quickly realized that this was more than a hockey game. My grandparents and parents wanted Team USA to beat the Soviet Union for generational reasons. Personally, I also think Americans needed a shot of hope to offset what was going on politically and economically at the time. (Sports has a way of pulling us together when national circumstances otherwise challenge us.)
I remember the game like it was yesterday. After Eruzione scored the go-ahead goal with ten minutes left in the game, like most everyone else I wondered, “How can we hold off a team of pros for 10 minutes when only two weeks ago the same team beat us 10-3 at Madison Square Garden?”
As Team USA was closing the game out, Al Michaels famously wondered aloud “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!!” Team USA held off the highly accomplished and long winning team from scoring again to beat them 4-3 in epic fashion.
My dad’s wisdom
Shortly after the game, my dad pulled me aside and said, “Corey, I want you to remember this game. Our boys had NO BUSINESS winning this game. NONE. Especially after what happened two weeks ago. And the Soviets were professionals who have played together for over a decade and you can probably count their losses during that time period on one hand.”
Dad continued his lesson on perseverance and hard work. He said “This is proof that if you want something badly enough it’s possible. Our boys listened to Coach Brooks. Equally important, they didn’t listen to the people that said that Team USA couldn’t win in Lake Placid. They listened to their coach, worked hard and maybe, more importantly, believed.”
Team USA went on to beat Finland and won the 1980 Olympic Gold Medal in hockey.
Dad’s lesson in action
And my dad was right. I have experienced when you believe in what you want to accomplish and pursue it with the courage and work ethic to overcome any obstacle, you too can win your “Olympic Gold.”
Do I believe in Miracles? YES!
Please feel free to comment on what you remember and possibly learned from this inspirational achievement.
All my best,
D. Corey Rieck, MBA, CLTC | President & Founder
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P.S. Want to know a little more? Check out this article with 10 interesting, but little known facts about the Miracle on Ice.