The year was 1980, the setting was the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, and the event was one of the greatest sports moments in history, dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” The United States team was the underdog, the youngest American team to ever compete on Olympic ice. The Russians were expected to take the gold.
As the two teams hit the ice that night, nearly everyone expected the Russians to win the game. They were older and more experienced, and they had taken gold six out of the last seven Olympic Games. In addition, the Russians were mostly professional players, whereas the USA team’s roster had only amateur players.
I remember watching this game when I was just a little girl. The excitement filled my home as we hoped to cheer our home team on to victory. Keep in mind that this was during the Cold War era, at a time when the Soviet Union was our rival on several levels — which helped make the victory even sweeter.
The game was tied after the first period, and the Soviet Union even pulled ahead a little during the second. But the US team would come from behind to take over the lead 4 to 3. The Russians would never recover. As the clock ticked away, the excitement among my family members grew in intensity. I remember counting down those final seconds. While the team took to the ice to celebrate their victory, my family jumped around our living room floor.
The pride for our heroes on ice wasn’t contained just to my household. My whole town — heck the entire country — was so proud of our US ice hockey team.
My family was no stranger to sports. Football, basketball, wrestling, track and even field hockey — my siblings and I played them all. But, most likely because we lived in a town without a lot of ice, we didn’t play or watch much ice hockey. After the Miracle on Ice, however, my view of the sport changed forever. I started watching more games and becoming more interested.
Today, I am an avid fan of ice hockey. As an adult, I’ve become pretty good at amateur ice hockey and love to play a round of pickup with my friends. However, what I have really enjoyed over the years is coaching my kids to love the sport. They love the thrill and excitement of playing ice hockey just as much as the US Olympic team of 1980.
If you are looking for a fun and exciting amateur sport for yourself or your kids, ice hockey is definitely a perfect option. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be part of the US Olympic ice hockey team and be a national hero.