Herb Brooks Sadness

by john on August 12, 2003

Herb Brooks

Herb Brooks was killed in a car accident yesterday. He coached the 1980 US Olympic team that won gold in Lake Placid, an event Sports Illustrated voted in 1999 as the greatest sporting achievement in the 20th century. To this 14 year old kid who watched in the basement with his family, who got goosebumps for the first time, this award was a no-brainer. Not until my Twins won the world series in ’87 and ’91 did I feel a similar emotion but you always remember your first.

A few things about that gold medal victory. First, it wasn’t against the Russians. The stunning victory that prompted Al Michaels’ famous “Do you believe in Miracles? — Yes!” call wasn’t actually in the gold medal game. Two days later the team that defeated the heavy favorite Russian “Red Army” team went up against Finland and came from behind in the final period to win gold.

In 1980 the Cold War was still on. The Wall was still u And Iran was holding US citizens as hostages. While other countries used professional athletes in the Olympics we still preferred amateurs – and no David vs. Goliath match-up was bigger than it was than in hockey. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the kids on the US team to face off with the older professionals from the Russian team, many of whom (maybe all?) where actually soldiers.

A couple of weeks prior to the Olympics the Russians beat the US 10-3. Perhaps that made them over confident. Perhaps Brooks’ magic as a motivator put us over the to Perhaps it was just a bunch of kids who had been convinced by Brooks that they were born to shock the world. Whatever it was there is no doubt that without Herb Brooks hand-picking, coaching and motivating that team that there would have been no gold that year.

Memories of a 14 year old boy’s goosebumps. Yes, I believe in miracles.

[UPDATE] – College kids perform Olympic miracle is a must read.

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