Where Were You When the Miracle Happened 40 Years Ago This Week?
On February 22nd. 1980, in a small town in Upstate New York, one of the biggest upsets in sports, if not THE biggest upset in sports took place at the Winter Olympics. A bunch of college kids from the United States took down arguably one of the best hockey teams ever.
The United States clawed their way into the semifinal round and had to face the Soviet Union. Nobody gave them a chance to win, and with good reason. Those same two teams faced off in an exhibition warm-up game at Madison Square Garden 10 days prior to the Olympics, and the Soviets creamed the Americans.
But on that magical Friday afternoon, David slayed Goliath. Two days after the U,S. beat the Russians, the Americans would beat Finland for the gold medal by a score of 4 to 2.
That was the first time I Really Ever sat down to watch hockey, and from that point on, I've become a huge hockey fan.
I remember watching as many hockey games during that Olympics as they had on TV. I grew up in Carbondale Pennsylvania where the closest hockey team was, at that time, the Broome Dusters. There were no hockey teams in Scranton, no Wilkes-Barre Penguins, and no hockey in schools down there.
With all the turmoil across the globe during the 1980 Olympics, including the Iran Hostage Crisis, I was glued to the TV set hoping that the U.S. would win the gold medal in every event.
I remember standing about a foot away from the TV jumping up and down nervously watching the clock as the game was coming to an end. And as Al Michaels blurted out possibly the most famous quote ever in sports; “Do you believe in miracles, YES!”, I started screaming jumping up and down and I was so happy that I literally started crying.
My school was hosting a bazaar at our church that weekend. I was scheduled to work a booth that day, and ended up getting there about a half hour late because I stayed home to watch the end of the game.
I literally ran down the street as fast as I could, around the corner, and into our church's basement where I screamed at the top of my lungs, “they did it, the U.S. beat the Russians”.
Over the last few years, I've vacationed in Lake Placid twice. And both times, I had to go on the tour of the Arena where the miracle took place. I got chills walking into the building and down to the locker room that the US team used.
I was 11 years old when those Olympics took place. From that point on I would start watching hockey on TV on a regular basis. In Carbondale we had the New York City TV stations on our cable provider, so I would watch the Islanders and the Rangers every chance I could.
I became a Flyers fan because at that time I was already a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, and the 76ers.
I will never forget that weekend in 1980. It changed my life forever. USA! USA! USA!