On this day in 1980, at the XIII Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the US Hockey Team defeated the Russians and advanced to the gold medal round. Two days later, the US upstarts defeated the Finns to win gold. The young US team–average age 22–should have had no chance against the four-time defending Russians, who hadn’t lost an Olympic hockey game since 1968. But they had trained longer and harder than ever, had adopted some of the Soviets best tricks, and played with a rough checking style that kept their opponents off guard.
Their often-rocky path to victory was later chronicled in one of my favorite sports movies, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as no-nonsense coach Herb Brooks. In the early stages of bringing his team together, Coach Brooks frequently ran up against petty rivalries among supposed teammates. Each player seemed more concerned with old college loyalties. When he asked his players to introduce themselves, each man replied by saying his name and his university.
One night, immediately after an epic trouncing at an exhibition game, Coach Brooks lined his players up on the ice in the dark, empty arena. He pushed to them to skate sprint after sprint, relentlessly blowing his whistle and calling, “Again! Again! Again!” He pushed his players to exhaustion. Finally, team captain Mike Eruzione had an epiphany. He shouted out, “Mike Eruzione!” Coach Brooks asked, “Who do you play for?” Eruzione, bent and nearly broken, looked up and replied, “United States of America.” Coach Brooks nodded and dismissed his team, which finally was a team.
For today’s Friday Fun, think of a time when you realized you were part of something larger, of a time when your old identity was burned away and a new you emerged. In a paragraph or two, write about old you, new you, and what got you there.