Michael Morelli


The story of the 1980 miracle on ice showed so many values, habits and creed the Americans show on a daily basis. In the novel The Boys of Winter the author Wayne Coffey uses personal stories from the players and coaching staff of the 1980 men’s olympic ice hockey team en route to winning the gold medal at the winter olympics. The question being asked is, what is coffey writing this piece all these years later for?


In my personal reading and analysis of this novel, I believe there are multiple purposes for why he wrote this piece but maybe the most important is to illustrate to the reader that American values can be very accurately represented by sport. Coffey shows in his writing that, “These young college players at the average age of 20 had been so influenced by their American lifestyle and culture that is was shown off in their style of play”(Coffey, 13). The Americans played a style that was considered their own. It was a fast paced, up tempo, physical, and a mentality that screamed “I will not be outworked”. Coffey shows that the Americans were in an uphill battle in the semi final game against what was considered to be the best soviet team and for that matter the best team to ever step on the ice.  In the article “Superman and Me”, Alexie states that, “The words inside the fence (paragraph) all had a common goal and worked together to achieve that goal”(Alexie para 1).In just the same way they were in an uphill battle as a nation at the same time at the height of the cold war. In my analysis of the purpose of this piece I found that Coffee really emphasized that the relationship between what was happening building up to the game between USA vs USSR and the cold war between USA vs the Soviets could be related in so many ways. The Soviets were favored in both and the united states were trying to prove themselves in both. It was pure hard work and a mentality for the willingness to outwork the Soviets in the US team opposed to a skilled, I am better than you mentality in the Soviet team. The chemistry of the much older soviets who averaged in age at 32 was thought to be “unbeatable ” contrasting to a bunch of college hockey players from mainly The University of Minnesota and Boston College, (who happened to be the biggest rivals in college hockey) were thought to be “incapable” of working together as a team to capture a common goal but somehow the USA pulled off what most sports historians believe to be the biggest upset in American sports history. The question is how? The answer is surprisingly teamwork. . In his poem “Let America be America Again”, Langston Hughes wrote, “Let America be the land that dreamers dream in again”(Hughes para 8). Coach Herb Brooks showed his American values by being so physically and mentally harsh on the team that the players hated him more than each other. This strategy was how the team was able to work so well together. It was truly a display of their values at the game, as the US trailed heading into the final period of the game but yet again in the most unlikely of circumstances came back and scored two goals to win the game 4-3 and advance to the gold medal game, but could they win the gold medal against Finland?


Coffey was able to get his point across that American values can be represented by sport by comparing the similarities of work ethic, culture and values of the 1980 olympic hockey team to those same features as an everyday American and America as a whole have. The game vs the Soviets was so much more that just a game but it was truly a way of showing that we as a country are capable of “winning” the cold war and we are able to use our values as Americans to fight for what we stand for. Overall Coffey got his point across very clearly to the reader and it was very enjoyable to understand the purpose of this novel.




McKay, Claude. “America by Claude McKay.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,1921, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44691/america-56d223e1ac025 21 Oct. 2009.


Hughes, Langston. “Let America Be America Again.” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 25 Oct. 2016, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again  25 Jun. 2017.


King Jr, Martin Luther. “I Have a Dream.” Martin Luther King I Have a Dream Speech – American Rhetoric, 28 Aug. 1963,  www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm 2 Aug. 2015.


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November 13, 2017 4:41 pm

I have not heard of this book but I am aware of the story and love the movie. I totally agree that these boys represented the American creed through their hockey. What is truly amazing to me is how, just through a hockey game they untied an entire country and also brought out the best of this creed in all Americans. Sport is a very powerful tool of unity and life lessons I think.

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