Do you believe in Miracles?

Most Americans will remember that famous line uttered by sportscaster Al Michaels as he called the final seconds in the 1980 Olymic Hockey tournament semi-finals pitting the US team versus the powerful Soviet team. The US had won 4-3 and the next day beat Finland to win its first Gold medal in hockey since 1960.

A major motion picture called “Miracle” debuts on February 6th which tells the story of the 1980 team and its coach Herb Brooks who did the impossible.

You just had to either be there or have seen it on the tube to understand how incredible the 1980 US Hockey victory over the Soviets was.

The USSR had not lost the Gold medal since 1960 when the US team won it in Squaw Valley and the Soviets had won 21 straight Olympic games before that night.

While the US team was made up of college players (amateurs) the Soviet team was made up of the best players in the USSR who all happened to be in the military. Their job was to play hockey so they were really professionals paid under the table so they could be passed off as amateurs.

The US team hadn’t been in contention for a hockey medal since 1960 and they were seeded 7th in the 1980 tournament out of 12 teams.

The US team jelled during the tournament and as they won games the momentum built so when the Soviet match came up people were stoked. Millions watched the game on the tube. Most were hopeful the US would win but no one really thought they could. The Soviets were too tough and too professional for the gang of college kids.

The US team got lucky in the match as the Soviets dominated play through out. The US winning goal came with 10 minutes left and they had to hang on to win. That is why it was a miracle and the best US Olympic victory in history.

The victory made people forget for a time the funk we were in with the Cold War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the hostages in Iran, the haunting memories of Vietnam, and the terrible economy.

Every time they show those scenes of the final seconds ticking off, the gloves and sticks flying into the air, and Al Michaels now famous statement, I can’t help but be transported back to that cold February night in 1980 when I saw one of the greatest sports drama played out live on television. It made me a hockey fan to this day.

A Second Chance

This is a bit off topic but is a personal thing I would like to share:

As a senior at Findlay High, I played on the football team. Rather I was on the team but had no talent to play in a game. I was on the team only because I was a senior and the school had a ‘no cuts’ policy. As long as they had equipment for you, you were on the team.

One of my teammates that year was Jon Wauford. I believe he was a sophomore or Junior that year. He played running back and was on defense.

Jon turned out to be very good and in our 6 and 4 season he was the reason we even had a running game.

When he graduated he got a scholarship to Miami of Ohio and was a good player there as well.

After a few years I didn’t hear anything about him until last November when all the sports news shows led with a story about the end of the Miami and Marshall game. It seems a coach had decked a Marshall fan at the end of the game after Marshall had upset the Redhawks. That coach was Jon Wauford.

In high school he was a tall lanky kid who knew how to run. The story and resulting pictures plastered on newspapers showed a large angry man being arrested and led away in cuffs.

During the winter he was forced to resign from Miami and I didn’t hear anything more about him until tonight when I came across the following article in the DeMoines Iowa Register.

I’m glad he is still coaching and the incident last year didn’t ruin his life:

Keeler: No, this ain’t Ohio, but it’s a new life

Register Sports Columnist


You ain’t in Ohio anymore. They must have told him that 10 times as he lay facedown on the cold turf at Marshall University Stadium, hands cuffed behind his back, a cop leaning hard on each shoulder.

You ain’t in Ohio anymore. At first he tried to explain what had happened, that he didn’t see the man, that he was trying to protect his players, but the West Virginia troopers would have none of it.

You ain’t in Ohio anymore. That’s all they would say. And they trussed him up as if he were trying to sneak a street sign back across the state line.

He was helped back to his feet and – click! – that’s where America came in. There was the photo of Jon Wauford, a hulking man in the cherry red Miami of Ohio polo shirt being led off the field in handcuffs, a policeman on each arm. It led “SportsCenter” the night of Nov. 12, 2002. The picture was beamed across the Internet, pasted onto sports pages, faxed to talk radio hosts. He was infamous.

So it was inevitable. Two months ago, one of Wauford’s students at Clinton High School raised his hand and asked his teacher if the barrel-chested man in that photograph was the same man at the front of the room. And Mr. Wauford nodded.

For rest of article click here

Originally posted on the blog “Hancock County Politics Unfiltered”