Jim Craig - AEI Speakers Bureau
Jim Craig Biography
Jim Craig has been called the backbone of a team that accomplished one of the most extraordinary and memorable sports victories of all time. Jim Craig then went on to achieve tremendous success as a marketing and sales manager and strategist.
Today, in addition to serving as president of a promotions and marketing firm based in the Boston area, Jim Craig travels the country speaking in front of corporate audiences and non-profit groups. Over the past 25 years, Jim Craig has motivated, inspired, and instructed employees and associates from more than 300 organizations, including Coca-Cola, Coors, Walt Disney, Fidelity, Dunkin’ Donuts, John Hancock, KPMG, NBC, Ocean Spray, Evergreen Financial, Sun Life Financial, and other companies that hold some of the world’s most recognized brands.
An All-American goalie at Boston University and standout for the Terriers’ 1978 NCAA championship squad, Jim Craig was selected as the starting goaltender for the U.S. 1980 Olympic hockey team. At the Lake Placid games his performance was phenomenal. Indispensable to Team U.S.A.’s epic – what some have called miraculous – upset of the Soviet Union was the play of Jim Craig. In the game against the Soviets, the Americans were outshot 39-16, but Jim Craig made 36 saves, many of the spectacular variety, and his teammates scored four times. Two days later, against Finland, Jim Craig was again superb, and the Yanks won, 4-2, to take Olympic gold.
How miraculous, how historic, was the victory? Consider that as the 20th century came to a close, most major media sports polls selected what happened two decades prior on an ice rink in upstate New York as the greatest sports achievement of the previous 100 years.
Jim Craig Topics
- Rebounding from Setback and Defeat
Herb Brooks was the final player cut from the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team that went on to win the gold medal at the Squaw Valley games. He was cut after sitting for the official team picture. What had happened is that the coach of that team, Jack Riley, had been trying to recruit 1956 U.S. Olympic team star Bill Cleary, and just prior to the games, Cleary said he would join the team, but with the stipulation that his brother Bob be on the team as well. Riley said okay, and Brooks was cut to make room. (In the official team picture Bob Cleary's head is pasted over Herb Brooks's.) The Cleary boys were a major reason that the U.S. won the gold medal. After the U.S. won the gold medal, Herb Brooks's father, Herb Sr., said to his son, "Well, I guess the coach cut the right guy." Brooks played on the 1964 and 1968 teams, but neither team won a medal. And the experience of being cut from the 1960 team fueled and fired an obsessive desire to coach just the right team to play almost the perfect game of hockey.
- Innovation and Strategic Change
U.S. Olympic hockey team coach Herb Brooks shook up U.S. amateur hockey, the way it prepared and the way it played. Brooks oversaw and directed a schedule of practice and games that was far more rigorous and grueling than that underwent by other U.S. Olympic hockey teams. And Brooks taught his team to play a revolutionary and highly innovative game, one that combined the bruising and dump-and-chase Canadian form with the fast-moving, elegant, and frequent passing style of the Soviets.
- Peak Performance
"In some ways, what we accomplished was not a miracle," says Jim Craig in an ESPN interview. "It was the result of a coach with unbelievable passion who picked the right team and we executed his vision flawlessly." Team USA peaked at the right time. In the locker room prior to the game against the Soviet Union, Herb Brooks told his team, "Nine of out ten times we play this team, they would beat us. But not tonight because tonight is our night, tonight we win."
- Recruiting "What It Takes To Be A Gold Medal Winner"
It is famously said of Coach Herb Brooks that when he recruited players for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, he didn't necessarily pick the "best" players but he did pick the "right" ones. In the summer of 1979, Herb Brooks was at the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs scouting for the right players for the Olympic team. In his New York Times bestselling book (for which Jim Craig wrote the foreword), The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, Wayne Coffey wrote that at Colorado Springs "Brooks wasn't necessarily eyeing the most talented players or the most prolific scorers – all-star teams don't win games, he kept telling his players – but for those most willing to rewire their games to embrace his system, skate hard and fast, and fit together as a whole."