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As you are building a program, or trying to get the kind of impact recruits that will be program changers, I wanted to share some things about the Miracle on Ice of 1980 that can inspire you. When Herb Brooks’ team took to the ice against Sweden in the opening game of the 1980 Winter Olympics, there were several thousand empty seats in the 7,700 seat arena. Less than two weeks later, there would be 11,000 jammed in the 7,700 seat arena with New York state troopers having to keep others from trying to somehow get inside. They went from being unrecognized on the streets of Lake Placid with no autograph requests and thousands of empty seats at the Sweden game, to Mike Eruzione being signed to a $30,000 speaking contract for IBM the day after the Games.
Herb did know there were certain players he had to get, like defenseman Ken Morrow and scoring ace Mark Johnson, and he got them.
So no matter where your program is now, think about how those boys went from totally unknown to national heroes in less than 2 weeks. After Steven Redgrave picked up his fifth consecutive gold medal in rowing in 2000, he quickly joined the ranks as one of the greats. Despite being outnumbered by all of the odds, Lance Armstrong won the Tour De France in 1999. If you find yourself in a recruiting cycle where you have to bring in a lot of freshmen, use it as a positive like Herb Brooks did in 1980.
When they had upset the Soviets the players sat in stunned silence in the locker room before breaking into God Bless America over and over. Herb Brooks was a genius in how he formed that team and led them through their journey to sports history. Forty million people would be watching on ABC as Herb’s boys took on the Soviet dynasty team. You can make that all time as there was nothing in the 1800’s and nothing 15 years into this century to compare. Some say the 1950 USA 1-0 win over England in the World Cup was the greatest upset ever, but not many know of that Miracle on Grass because Team USA lost to Chile in the next round and did not make it out of the first round. While it was a little different than when he was recruiting high school players while as a coach at the University of Minnesota, Herb had to recruit his Olympic team in many ways.


When you really know their back story, I firmly feel you will feel there is nothing you cannot overcome or accomplish. The cycling great had been suffering testicular cancer that had eventually spread to his lungs and brain. At the age of 32, he was ready to claim that heavyweight title from a man named George Foreman. They were undefeated in several years of play and no team had ever even come close to beating them.
The natural tendency is to downplay expectations when you are a young team, but Herb Brooks sure didn’t take that approach. He also changed the Team USA style of play from a conservative approach to a more high flying and more creative style of play on the ice. It took them awhile to realize the magnitude of what they had accomplished (Sports Illustrated would name it the greatest U.S. Fortunately, he did get into a boat again, at the age of 38, and won another gold medal in Sydney. However, this didn’t stop him from returning to the 1999 Tour De France and taking home the gold. Now, for those who don’t know, Foreman was unbeaten in 40 fights and only 3 of those fights had “gone the distance”. However, it wasn’t until the 1980 Olympic Games that Team USA battled (and won) against them.  The “Miracle” was the fact that the USA team comprised of very young and relatively inexperienced players (at least compared to the Soviets). As head coach of the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team, he specifically recruited very young players to try out and to make up his 20 man roster. During their rigorous seven month training he constantly said ‘legs feed the wolf, boys.
While the Soviets had three of the six greatest players of all time on that roster, several of their players were into their 30s.
There was a guy from the 500 watt radio station in nearby Saranac, New York and a few print reporters.


He really wanted Joe Mullen, star at Boston College, but Joe’s Dad had died and the family needed the NHL signing money, so he had to go that way. The dramatic race was won by a mere 0.38 seconds and it ensured his spot as a rowing legend forever. It was rumored that the majority of his motivation came from Adolf Hitler, who was enraged to see Owns succeeding as much as he was. With seconds on the clock, one of the announcers stated, “Do you believe in miracles?” as the US team held their lead and won the game.
Legs feed the wolf!’ He told them that being the youngest team of the 12 in the Olympics was not a negative but a positive.
In the final minutes of the third period with Team USA up 4-3 the Soviet coach panicked and kept his veterans on the ice thinking they would surely do something! He would become the first American player to score 500 goals and to reach 1,000 points in his NHL career. Herb had his team doctor time shifts the whole night, keeping his boys to forty seconds on ice and  then off.
Few expected this outcome, which is why it became a legendary moment in the history of sports.
The Soviets were known for wearing down teams with their incredible conditioning drills, but in the third period it was them that wore down.
Herb picked very talented players with the inner fire to somehow come up with a way to outscore the Soviets 4-3.



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