Central to the American character is a spirit of decency and fair play. When an injustice is done to someone, you just want to correct it, you just want to make things right. For many years, there’s been an injustice done to a great man. His name is Herb Brooks. He’s been denied entry into the “Hockey Hall of Fame,” and those of us who have studied his life and those of us who admire him believe that that was simply not fair, not right, not just.
Recently, we received a note from Patti Brooks, the legendary coach’s wife, telling us that she received word that this year Herb Brooks will be inducted into the “Hockey Hall of Fame.” What a joyful moment for Patti Brooks and her two children, Danny and Kelly. What a marvelous moment for all the members of the Brooks family and what a marvelous moment for those people who played for Coach Brooks and those people who admired the legendary coach.
Those of us who participated in the “Miracle at Lake Placid” project, the last project that my wife and I monitored while we were teaching at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, are absolutely thrilled for the Brooks family. The 20 students who studied with us, the life of Coach Brooks and that incredible Cinderella team that now is known as the “Miracle Team” learned so many things that have been helpful to us as we make our journey through life. We learned about standards… we learned about discipline… we learned about hard work… we learned about initiative… we learned about creativity, and we met so many wonderful people along the way. Not to mention, we were able to meet Kelly Brooks, Danny Brooks, Patti Brooks and all the members of the Brooks family when we visited St. Paul, Minnesota. The “Miracle at Lake Placid” project was the signature project in our teaching career, and Herb Brooks made it possible.
Herb Brooks is what America is all about – a young man who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, a person of humble background, a person who grew out of the immigrant tradition of St. Paul, a person who fell in love with the game of hockey, a person who mastered hockey and a person who made America feel good because of what he did in Lake Placid, New York. In November on that special moment when Herb Brooks is inducted into the “Hockey Hall of Fame,” all of us who have celebrated his accomplishment in Lake Placid, New York, all of us who have been inspired by his work, all of us who have learned from what he taught us will be so thrilled that an injustice has been corrected, and Herb Brooks has finally received his due.
Thank you, Coach Brooks. Thank you for the moment… thank you for the memory… thank you for the miracle. Thank you for what you did to lift the spirits of a country when we were struggling, and thank you for giving us something that we replay again and again in our hearts and in our minds when we are looking for inspiration. You thought you were just coaching a hockey team. You thought that you were just setting out on a journey to beat the best hockey team on the planet. But what you didn’t know is that your life work lives on in people across this country, day after day. It gives inspiration to athletes. It gives hope to senior citizens, and it gives all of us a sense of pride in the country we love so much.
Herb Brooks, you belong in the “Hockey Hall of Fame.” Herb Brooks, you will live on in our hearts and in our minds and in our memories for many, many years to come.
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