What a memory

Peak Performance

What a memory


Special to the Sun-Gazette

The 1980 United States Olympic hockey team – for many it triggers an exciting memory filled with both patriotic and athletic fervor. The nation focused on the TV with hearts pounding as the amazing team won the gold medal.

Sports Illustrated called it the “No. 1 sports moment of the century.” You may have seen the movie “Miracle on Ice” – the story of the event.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a telephone interview with Mike Eruzione, the captain of this 1980 team. The experience was enlightening and inspirational. The theme of our discussion focused on teamwork, leadership and excellence. Eruzione was quick to say that “time and effort, not luck, are the keys to success.”

Other ingredients emphasized include “great team chemistry, respect for each other, team closeness, team member dependence, hard work and practice, and individually and collectively playing the best hockey of the year.”

Eruzione’s philosophy on teamwork includes the importance of setting goals, preparation, focus and positive, contagious attitudes. Teamwork is essential in the business world, as well as athletics. To instill teamwork in the business world, Eruzione feels that team members “must strive to do their best, understand their role within the organization and how it relates to the big picture, buy into the mission of the organization, wanting to be successful and realize we all have different roles and jobs.”

Leadership was essential to the attainment of the sought after gold medal. The 1980 team was fortunate to have the legendary Herb Brooks as their coach. According to Eruzione, one key principle articulated by Brooks was instructing players to “check egos at the door.”

In discussing Eruzione’s honorary role as captain, leadership was “instilled at a young age,” he felt he was a “captain among captains” on the U.S. Olympic hockey team. The players respected Eruzione “on and off the field because of the type of person he is.”

His leadership style was described as “showing respect, working hard, getting along, and never putting self ahead of others.” The latter part of this quote displays humbleness and unselfishness and relates well to Brooks instructing players to check their egos at the door.

Eruzione’s greatest memories of the 1980 Olympics were the opening ceremony and, of course, winning the gold. He considers himself patriotic and said it felt good “putting on the U.S. jersey – it was a great honor representing our country with great pride.” Eruzione conveyed his excitement while fans chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A.” – “the greatest place to live” according to him. He represented the nation with both athleticism and patriotism.

Since those Olympic memories, Eruzione has had a varied and successful career including hockey, broadcasting, motivational speaking and working in administration at Boston University. His “commitment to excellence” has been the foundation for his success.

Mike Eruzione – a real hero, leader and class act – one the nation can be proud of.

Machamer is a human resources professional and college instructor who is working on writing a book.