1980 ‘Miracle’ still provides inspiration today

Teacher notes historical significance


Riis Wilson

Senior George Hanley said he has seen the movie about the U.S. hockey team’s win over the Soviets so many times that he practically has it memorized. Hanley is a member of the Central Indiana Knights.

Max Wirth, Sports Co-Editor

Folklore, mythology, a tale of incredible feats: 38 years ago on Feb. 22, the greatest upset in sports history occurred at the hands of a bunch of college athletes. The United States Olympic hockey team overcame the Soviets 4-3 at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.  

“Sports and patriotism, combined. It’s about what sports mean to America,” sports history and culture teacher Mr. Ryan Davis said. “The game represented the U.S. vs. Soviet Union, which is Democracy vs. Communism. It was a part of the Cold War. We overcame the constant competition with a bunch of college kids against professionals.”

The United States prohibited the National Hockey League’s best players from competing, avoiding embarrassment from the Russian pros. The Stars and Stripes threw out their most highly acclaimed college players and told them to go beat the best team in the world.

And they did it.

“Coach Herb Brooks got his players to believe. The way coach can instill belief in his players is remarkable,” Davis said.

At a point of uncertainty in the nation’s history, an amateur team slain Goliath. “The country was able to unite through a common victory. It was more than the differences between race and culture. America was one in that time period; after that victory, the country meshed,” he said.

“Other than the American colonists defeating the British in the Revolutionary War, the miracle on ice stands as the greatest upset in the nation’s history,” he said, just a little tongue in cheek. There has been no bigger underdog in the Olympics history, or even sports history.

Senior hockey player George Hanley has loved the movie rendition for years. “I’ve seen ‘Miracle (On Ice)’ over 20 times. I used to watch it every day when I was younger. It was a truly motivational film for me,” he said.

“There couldn’t be professional players in the Olympics,” he explained, “so they chose a bunch of college kids. It was the foundation. The fact that the immature and undeveloped amateurs were able to unite and and defeat the Russians is impressive.”

The 1980 victory provides hope for any team needing it. “No matter how good the opposition is, I feel confident in knowing my team always has a shot,” Hanley said.

Senior hockey player Andrew Fralich is also a huge fanatic of the movie “Miracle,” as he can “can quote the famous Herb Brooks pre-game speech, word for word,” he said.