This is the story I was told from a great conversation I had with Chris Stoks, an athlete who I've had the pleasure to work with as member of the track team at UND. Chris was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing hockey, football, and track. I asked him to write up a summary of the story and send to me to share (I didn't trust myself to paraphrase the conversation):
Chris: "This was told to me my junior year of high school hockey in the locker room when deciding whether to skip football my senior year to concentrate on hockey…
My high school hockey coach played hockey and football at the University of Minnesota-Duluth during the late 70's. With 1980 right around the corner, he knew he would have a chance to make the Olympic roster for the 1980 Olympic hockey team. Because of the Olympics being only a year away, he decided to concentrate on hockey and making the (1980 USA) team. So he didn't end up going out for football in the fall to put more focus towards hockey. Well, when the time for the tryouts rolled around, Herb (Brooks) and he had talked about a chance to try-out for the team. Herb had known my coach from recruiting when coaching at the University of Minnesota and knew he was a two-sport athlete. Soon after the conversation started, Herb had asked my coach if he went out for football this past fall. My coach replied that he didn't… Herb stopped and told him to not even try out for the team because he would not select him - because he didn't go out for football in the fall. Herb didn't only look for great hockey players, he looked for overall great athletes."
The story of the 1980 USA hockey team is a fabulous one... but not a miracle, as it's often referred to. Herb Brooks's assembly and preparation of that team was very calculated, and his great coaching mind was obviously not short on insight into the potency of the multi-sport athlete.