Miracle Man: Talking Golf With Jim Craig July 21, 2020 By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Jim Craig, the golf medal-winning 1980 USA Olympic hockey team, still believes in the power of dreams. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

In February 1980, Jim Craig helped to orchestrate what many consider the biggest sports moment of the 20th century, the “Miracle on Ice” hockey victory by the U.S. Olympic Team over the overwhelming favorites from the Soviet Union. Team USA, a collection of college players and minor-leaguers, was going against the vaunted Soviets, who had won the previous four Olympic golds and defeated the Americans, 10-3, in an exhibition game just two weeks earlier.

The 4-3 victory in Lake Placid, N.Y., that led to the USA winning the gold medal two days later was achieved through months of hard work and teamwork under the guidance of Minnesota native Herb Brooks, a successful college coach who crafted a team that featured Craig as the goaltender. A Boston University graduate who backstopped the Terriers to the 1977-78 NCAA title, Craig went on to play just 30 NHL games over three seasons, most of them with his hometown Boston Bruins, in a professional career that ended in 1984. He went on to work in advertising sales before launching Gold Medal Strategies, in which he provides motivational and team-building workshops. His new book, “We Win: Lessons on Life, Business and Building Your Own Miracle Team” is available through his website (goldmedalstrategies.com).

What got you into golf growing up in North Easton, Mass.?

I was always a pretty good baseball player, but I had hurt my back and couldn’t play. One of my best friends, Randy Millen, who went on to play hockey and golf at Harvard, was always after me to play golf. So we started playing, and I loved it. I went on to become the caddie master at Thorny Lea [in nearby Brockton, Mass.] as a sophomore in high school and I went on to play in high school and at BU.

What is it that endures about the 1980 Olympics and that shocking upset?

As you get older, get married and have children, your perspective changes, but one thing hasn’t changed: what my teammates and I accomplished was much more than a hockey game. If you were alive, you watched it in a dorm room or you were at a sporting event when the result was announced, or you saw it with your family. Someone who wasn’t born probably saw the movie “Miracle.” Very few people don’t know about it. It’s always a poignant moment when I meet someone. You think they would be asking me about the experience, but it’s just the opposite; they’re sharing theirs, which is cool.

What made it bigger than a hockey game?

It was a moment in time where the economy was struggling. You had the oil crisis, the American hostages in Iran, President Carter giving his “crisis of confidence” speech. I remember when the “USA!” chant started. It happened in Lake Placid when we were losing our game against Sweden and some firefighters came into the arena and decided it was too quiet, so they started chanting. It became a symbol, a tradition, just like when we flew on Air Force One as a team to visit the White House. That became a tradition, too, for every sports team that has won something important.

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In February 1980, Jim Craig helped to orchestrate what many consider the biggest sports moment of the 20th century, the “Miracle on Ice” hockey victory by the U.S. Olympic Team over the overwhelming favorites from the Soviet Union. Team USA, a collection of college players and minor-leaguers, was going against the vaunted Soviets, who had won the previous four Olympic golds and defeated the Americans, 10-3, in an exhibition game just two weeks earlier.

The 4-3 victory in Lake Placid, N.Y., that led to the USA winning the gold medal two days later was achieved through months of hard work and teamwork under the guidance of Minnesota native Herb Brooks, a successful college coach who crafted a team that featured Craig as the goaltender. A Boston University graduate who backstopped the Terriers to the 1977-78 NCAA title, Craig went on to play just 30 NHL games over three seasons, most of them with his hometown Boston Bruins, in a professional career that ended in 1984. He went on to work in advertising sales before launching Gold Medal Strategies, in which he provides motivational and team-building workshops. His new book, “We Win: Lessons on Life, Business and Building Your Own Miracle Team” is available through his website (goldmedalstrategies.com).

What got you into golf growing up in North Easton, Mass.?

I was always a pretty good baseball player, but I had hurt my back and couldn’t play. One of my best friends, Randy Millen, who went on to play hockey and golf at Harvard, was always after me to play golf. So we started playing, and I loved it. I went on to become the caddie master at Thorny Lea [in nearby Brockton, Mass.] as a sophomore in high school and I went on to play in high school and at BU.

What is it that endures about the 1980 Olympics and that shocking upset?

As you get older, get married and have children, your perspective changes, but one thing hasn’t changed: what my teammates and I accomplished was much more than a hockey game. If you were alive, you watched it in a dorm room or you were at a sporting event when the result was announced, or you saw it with your family. Someone who wasn’t born probably saw the movie “Miracle.” Very few people don’t know about it. It’s always a poignant moment when I meet someone. You think they would be asking me about the experience, but it’s just the opposite; they’re sharing theirs, which is cool.

What made it bigger than a hockey game?

It was a moment in time where the economy was struggling. You had the oil crisis, the American hostages in Iran, President Carter giving his “crisis of confidence” speech. I remember when the “USA!” chant started. It happened in Lake Placid when we were losing our game against Sweden and some firefighters came into the arena and decided it was too quiet, so they started chanting. It became a symbol, a tradition, just like when we flew on Air Force One as a team to visit the White House. That became a tradition, too, for every sports team that has won something important.

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