“This cannot be a team of common men, because common men go nowhere. You must be uncommon”. These words were spoken 29 years ago in a dark ice rink in a foreign country to a group of about 20 young men. Herb Brooks was the coach of the 1980 US Winter Olympic Hockey Team, he had just one goal for that team: to win the Gold medal, defeating the top team in the world: the USSR. All of the 20 young men on that team were all fresh out of college. Most of these players came from rival colleges and did not hesitate to bring that rivalry to the practices of tyhe US team. Despite herb’s best efforts to bring the team together before the opening ceremonies, two days before the opening ceremonies at Lake Placid the young team was beaten by the Soviets 9-1. After that loss, they then tied to Sweden in the first game of the placement round. Despite this, the team came together after the two games, determined to beat the Societs and win the Gold Medal. They managed to complete this goal, beating the top three teams in the world in the process. Despite their differences and the doubt that people gave them, the team had risen above average and did what was deemed impossible by many.
28 years after the Miracle on Ice, the 07-08 hockey season rolled around. And I first met my hockey team in mid-October. Many people doubted that my team would be able to do anything, partly becasue of our size. Another thing that made people dubious was because of our differences. Age, size, mentality, backgrounds, race, and many more varied among my team. Ali and I were the only minorities playing for Arapahoe for that agle level that season. Many of the kids hadn’t played competitive hockey until this very season. Never the less, we were determined to have a good season, and show everyone that we could play. So, from the first practice, we went to work. We didn’t just go through the motions like many other teams generally do; we went through the drills at full speed. We didn’t who each other any mercy in any drill, hitting where we could, often times they were huge ones. Every time we hit the ice for practices we gave it our all and more. Unfortunately, belonging to a big association, we only got two or three one hour ten minute practices a week, sometimes not even that. But that didn’t stop us on our push for perfection, the nicghts we didn’t have practice, my coaches would schedule off-ice conditioning training. Whether it was the fields at Kent Denver, or a rec center, we could work to improve our endurance, stamina, speed, core strength, and mental toughness. Run longer, run more miles, sprint more, sprint longer, and always run faster. The time of our leg raises went from a minute and a half to three minutes, then to five. Plyometrics were introduced, then weights were introduced to that. The dreaded team push up soon turned to five of them without a problem. Often the next night, we would go to practice, muscles still aching and sore from our workouts. A practice schedule would look like this: skate, passing drills, shooting drills, hitting drills, 2-on-1’s, 5-on-2’s, 1-on-1’s, breakouts, 5 puck shootout, relay races, and a ’round-the-world ladder (about a mile’s worth of skating). Ironically, that would have been one of our easier practices. Shoot, pass, skate, read, think, and hit. That was what we practiced, and that is what we did. Chemistry is also another thing that we tried to perfect. Not the science class, but the team cohesion. We changed up our lines multiple times until we found the ones that worked. WE also had team “functions” (parties). We also worked on our skills and fitness when we had nothing better to do at home. Hit the gym, shoot hundreds of pucks a day, stick handle, hitting practice with our siblings, anything it took. We did not win our state, or even our league. But we were determined to show everyone we could play, and we did just that. WE were determined, and we put ourselves past the others so that we could achieve our goal, what people had considered “impossible”. Not only had we done well in the season and in tournaments, we became a team. No, we became a family.
A team is comprised of individuals. Each person has their own opinion and thoughts, and each had as many differences to the next person as everyone else. There might even be a rivalry or feud between two people on that team. But if those differences can be set aside and the individuals can come together as a team. Then chances are, they can overcome any obstacle and accomplish any task, no matter how impossible it seems. A team can create miracles. I believe in the power of a team.
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