40 years ago today, the 1980 U.S. Hockey team defeated the feared and what seemed like the unbeatable Russians to advance to the gold medal game. A game that meant more than just a win for young men. A game that united the country as a whole amidst the Cold War, and a year before the US led the boycott of the Moscow Games in protest of the Soviets invasion on Afghanistan.  Months before US faced off against the Soviets in what is known as the "Miracle On Ice". The Soviets crushed USA in Madison Square Garden. A team of young college players led by an infamous, legendary college coach Herb Brooks. The U.S. expectations in the locker room as well as around the world were low, no one besides one man thought the U.S. would have won a gold medal in 1980.  The game meant a lot more than just a ticket to the gold medal game. For America it was a virtual punch in the face to the Soviets, bragging rights and a way to show pride of love for their country. As much as it meant for the U.S. players, Herb Brooks, the parents, the families and fans. What people didn't know is that the 1980 US Olympics would continue to inspire the next generation of hockey players like myself and many others for many years down the road.  At the time, 40 years ago, I was an after thought. My Mom and Dad were just about to enter their 20's and I clearly was never a thought across their mind. Still not being alive for one of the greatest games in hockey history. The Miracle On Ice to this day still motivates me and motivated me during my playing career. Being an under sized, stay at home, very simple and not a flashy defenseman. My style of game was never recognized first by scouts, coaches and teammates but it was players like the players of the 1980 US Miracle team that helped me see the bigger picture of the game. The love for your teammates, being a team player, being a leader, working hard and putting your body on the line every shift for the other 20+ guys in the line up, doing whatever it took to help my team win.  And, I'll never forget the moment I was named captain of my college team my senior year. All I thought about entering the year and being a captain of 25+ young-men was the way that the 1980 US team came together as one. They all grew up in different areas, played for different colleges, being rivals in college, playing against one another for championships for years, etc. Their were players who disliked each other to start camp but by the end of it all, they were brothers, they were a family. I know it was just a movie based on true events and usually movies are a little exaggerated to add extra affect and drama but I'll never forget watching the 1980 US team play in the film. The way you had guys blocking shots, laying out for blocks, taking hits to make plays, throwing hits in the corner, being relentless on the puck and the other team. BUT more important how the team played as a TEAM, they came together put the greater good of themselves to the side and did whatever it took to win for not only themselves but their teammates as well. And I knew this is what I want my senior year of college to be like. I knew this is all I ever want to do with my playing career. I don't care if I score goals, get points, etc. I want to be the guy on the team who was known to do whatever it took to help my team. I wanted to be the guy on the team who guys relied on late in games, who would block a big time shot, and give life to the bench and team.  Then when I visited the Herb Brooks arena in February last year and got to take a tour of the rink, watch the ACTUAL game film from the original 1980 Russia vs US game. And be in the TOWN the U.S. players stayed during the medal round. It was all surreal. I was in awe 90% of the time. I did not know what to say or do. I remember just standing there stepping in the arena, looking around and soaking it all in. Possibly the greatest moment of my life. To stand in the arena that storied the greatest game in hockey history. We then visited the locker rooms, seeing the plaques of the rosters outside the locker rooms, the score sheet, the players names, everything. It all hit, this really did happen. There were players who really did put their absolute life on the line for the game and win one of the best games in hockey history. As I said all I know from the 1980 Miracle game are pictures, the movie and videos. Therefore seeing it in person and having our tour guide who was alive and there at the game tell us about the game. It all just hit me... There is a way to get a group of "no bodies" to perform, there is a way to get a group of under skilled players to perform, there is a way to pull out wins and be competitive although you may not have all the skill or smarts, there is a way to do ANYTHING you set your mind to as long as you believe, work hard and never give up.  That 1980 U.S. Miracle team impacted my life, I must of watched that movie a million times from 14-years-old to now and every time I watch the film I get goose bumps during the game, during the times Herb cuts player, during the time Jimmy Craig runs out to Herb after Herb said he is thinking sitting him (Craig) down, the time when Jack O'Callahan runs out on the ice, crutches in the air after Herb tells him he is on the roster for the medal round, the time Mike Eruzione screams out his name and who he plays for after Herb skates the team after a tie in a pre-season game. This moment in history sparked my love for hockey and continues to spark my love for the greatest game on earth and I wish all young players could watch that movie and have the same takeaways from it as I did and can accomplish everything those US hockey players did.

#Rituals #Athletes #Pregame

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