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Eruzione believes diversity is Team USA’s greatest strength

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The United States men’s hockey team will begin their quest for the Gold Medal on Feb. 14th with non-NHL players. The Olympic Athletes from Russia are the favorites. Sound familiar?

In 1980, Herb Brooks, Mike Eruzione and others completed the impossible, defeating the mighty Soviet Union to bring the men’s hockey Gold Medal back to the U.S. for the first time since 1960.

With active NHL players not participating for the first time since 1994, another unique group of Americans will try to win the ultimate prize.

Brian Gionta, 39, will captain this year’s team filled with players of varied experience ranging from collegiate athletes to former NHL players.

“With Brian as an older leader, I guarantee he’s got that team in place and everybody hanging together and being together,” Eruzione said in a recent interview with NBC Olympics.  ”The sport of hockey brings people together right away. You learn that at a young age, how important your teammates are and how important it is to become a team right away. They’ve played against each other; they’ve played with each other. There are four players from Boston University there that know each other.”

Eruzione is a BU Alumnus and is still involved with the University today, working in the development office. Jordan Greenway, a current junior at BU, will become the first African-American to play on the men’s side.

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“Jordan’s a great player, and he doesn’t need my advice,” Eruzione said. “My opinion was just, ‘Embrace it. Enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity.’ He has represented the United States before at the World Junior Championships so he knows what it’s about. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Before the 1980 Winter Games, Herb Brooks ran a grueling six-month training to find the right players for his system and develop a familial environment. Additionally, his coaching staff had plenty of opportunities to experiment with different line combinations and cultivate team chemistry.

The team played a 61-game pre-Olympic schedule against foreign, college and professional teams, ultimately finishing with a 42-16-3 record.

Tony Granato, the current head coach, did not have the same luxury.

The team was announced on Jan. 1st, at the NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field. Just 40 days before the Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.

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The Winter Games get underway swiftly and each game counts just as much as the next. There is little room for error, especially at the beginning. Remember, the 1980 squad almost had a dream-crushing loss in their opening game against Team Sweden.

“You can’t be too patient because it’s a quick tournament,” Eruzione explained. “You’re playing a lot of games in a short period of time. It’s not like you have two months to put a line together. I think it’s just going to go based on Tony’s knowledge and the coaches that are involved. They’re pretty quick to figure out who should play with who.”

Despite the difference in length of preparation, the 2018 squad’s makeup has a similar feel to the 1980 Miracle team.

“All American athletes, we come from different backgrounds, we all have different heritage and we’re very diverse,” Eruzione said. “We know we’re diverse as a country, but our team was very diverse.”

As part of the AncestryDNA campaign from Ancestory.com, several members of the 1980 team wanted to check into their past. Robbie McClanahan, John Harrington, Buzz Schneider and Davey Christian got involved.

“When the campaign was designed to celebrate America’s greatness, I thought this would be a lot of fun for us to see the diversity of our hockey team, and it was amazing,” Eruzione said. “What was funny was that Buzzy had some Russian heritage. “Now I know why Buzzy always scored against Vladislav Tretiak (Soviet Union goalie), because of the Russian roots.”

This time around, it’s a new group of diverse players heading to foreign soil. The seasoned veteran Gionta alongside young guns such as Greenway look to complete the impossible once again.

141 women accept ESPYs Arthur Ashe Courage Award for Larry Nassar survivors

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A total of 141 women accepted the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday night for the hundreds of Larry Nassar survivors, according to ESPN.

“1997. 1998. 1999. 2000. 2004. 2011. 2013. 2014. 2015. 2016,” Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said on stage. “These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse. All those years, we were told, you are wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor. It’s OK. Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered. Be careful. There are risks involved. The intention? To silence us. In favor of money, medals and reputation.

“But we persisted, and finally, someone listened and believed us. This past January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a profound level of understanding by giving us each the opportunity to face our abuser, to speak our truth and feel heard. Thank you, Judge Aquilina [in attendance], for honoring our voices.

“For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us rediscover the power we each possess. You may never meet the hundreds of children you saved, but know they exist. The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations.

“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Predators thrive in silence. It is all too common for people to choose to not get involved. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in, impacting others.

“All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. Too often, abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn’t matter. To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter and you are not alone.

“We all face hardships. If we choose to listen, and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other. We may suffer alone, but we survive together.”

The Ashe award, named after the Grand Slam tennis champion and human rights advocate, goes to those with “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”

Previous Olympian recipients include Muhammad AliCathy FreemanTommie Smith and John CarlosPat Summitt and Caitlyn Jenner.

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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