“What is courage? Let me tell you what I think it is. An indefinable quality that makes a man put out that extra something, when it seems there is nothing else to give. I dare you to be better than you are. I dare you to be a thoroughbred.” – Herb Brooks
It was purely an oversight on my part to ignore the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice that took place at Lake Placid when the upstart kids from the United States defeated the USSR hockey machine at the Olympics. I’ve been to Lake Placid twice since those Olympics, and stepped inside that rink the last time. It was a quiet summer day that time, but the rink was lit up and church-like.
I didn’t play hockey growing up in Massachusetts, but it felt like everyone else did, especially after that Olympics. Everyone knew who Jim Craig and David Silk and Mike Eruzione were, and everyone knew Herb Brooks. The gruff coach with the incredible wisdom bombs dropped on his teams. Sayings like “Legs feed the wolf” and “You’re playing worse everyday and right now you’re playing like it’s next month” were made famous by Brooks and parroted by coaches and athletes alike. There’s something about an underdog pulling off the miracle upset that inspires a generation, and we were all inspired by that team.
I watched the movie Miracle again last night. They mostly got the Boston accents right, as right as Hollywood ever gets it anyway. And I suppose the folks in Minnesota cringed at the accents on their side. But the soul of that movie is in honoring Herb Brooks and what he created out of a bunch of kids. Herb passed away before the movie was released, but he was certainly aware they were making it. I think he would have appreciated the whole of it, even if reluctant to be celebrated himself.
It’s hard not to be inspired by Herb Brooks quotes like the one that opens this blog and the one that follows. They make you want to go out and create your own miracle, really. And isn’t that the point? If a bunch of kids can pull off an upset like that why can’t you and I dare to be thoroughbreds ourselves? And what are we waiting for? It’s not like Herb hasn’t kicked us in the ass with his words. The rest is up to us.
“Let me start with issuing you a challenge: Be better than you are. Set a goal that seems unattainable, and when you reach that goal, set another one even higher.”