Sports are rife with great motivational speeches. Coaches are legendary for their fiery pre-game and halftime speeches that fire up and inspire their athletes to achieve what might have been considered impossible. Vince Lombardi, Knute Rockne, Bobby Knight, Lou Holtz and, yes, even Roy Williams and Bill Self come to mind. Of course, one of the greatest motivational cheerleaders of all time wasn’t a coach, but a leader in battle, General George Patton, but then, wouldn’t he have made a terrific and ferocious football coach?
Perhaps one of the most famous and most remembered speeches was the one made famous in the 1940 movie KNUTE ROCKNE: ALL AMERICAN in which future U.S. President Ronald Reagan portrayed an ill and dying Notre Dame football star in which he asks coach Rockne to tell the team to “win one for the Gipper”. That line has been immortalized in sports and movies ever since. It is the epitome of “going above and beyond” one’s capabilities to win one for the team!
Former Kansas football coach Don Fambrough was famous for his speeches before games against the hated Missouri Tigers. He convinced young men from, not only Kansas, but Texas, Pennsylvania and all over the country that those guys playing for Missouri were the most dastardly creatures on earth! Their ancestors had actually burned, raped and pillaged the town of Lawrence not too many years before during the Civil War!
All who have participated in sports probably have a favorite moment, a favorite coach, who gave an inspired, passionate, flame-throwing with the tongue speech that may not have produced a victory but most certainly stuck in our memory bank forever!
Truly one of the shortest was one of the very best. It happened in 1980 when a bunch of upstart Americans met the vaunted Russian hockey team for the gold medal. It was preposterous for anyone to even consider that this bunch of college kids could skate with the Russians, a collection of professionals who had run roughshod over the competition. Take a look at what the underdog coach of the U.S. team had to say before sending his kids out onto the ice that evening:
Coach Herb Brooks:
Address to 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Before USSR Match
Great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that’s what you have here tonight, boys.
That’s what you’ve earned here, tonight.
If we played ’em ten times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with ’em.
Tonight, we stay with ’em, and we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.
You were born to be hockey players — every one of ya.
And you were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.
Their time — is done. It’s over.
I’m sick and tired of hearin’ about what a great hockey team the Soviets have.
This is your time!!
Now go out there and take it!
Take it they did and that might still stand as one of the greatest upsets in athletic history. Truly the time David slew Goliath. Herb Brooks ranks right at the top with one of the simplest but most effective motivational pre-game speeches ever.
Can you remember one of your coach’s best motivational ploys? A rant? A rave? A speech? There have been some dandys!
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at email@example.com.