Tuesday, 23 July 2024

















Contact: Kitch Mussari
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For Immediate Release

The 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid was celebrated at the historic skating arena in the village and recorded for history by a group of college students from northeastern Pennsylvania who found the experience of the past and the present, the chance of a lifetime.

Dr. Anthony Mussari, Chairman of the Mass Communications/Media Technologies department at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, took his own band of 20 lunch pail college kids and put them into their own training camp so they could experience the exhilaration of working hard and reaching a goal that most wouldn’t even think of, let alone try.

Two men, Doc and Herb Brooks, their teams and their accomplishments, interface in many areas. The students will be at their own Olympics on Saturday, May 7, 2005 at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Mussari’s students will present their projects on Herb Brooks and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team before an audience of parents, relatives, and friends.

We all know what happened at Lake Placid in February 1980. Twenty-five years later, it became a sound stage for a project by mass comm students so they could look at the team, the road to victory, the coach and players, the town and the creative results, and mold their own project for the 21st century.

The students each selected a part to become immersed in and fashion a component that would illustrate their part in the project. One tackled the books written, another the movies made, a third, the values of Herb Brooks, a fourth, the symbols of the Olympics, a fifth, the artwork and photos, and so on.

The odyssey began when Doc, as Mussari is affectionately known, sat down to watch a movie called “Miracle” with his daughter and son-in-law in Cleveland, Ohio. Ken Russell’s depiction of Herb Brooks was so moving and the results of his philosophy and values so identical to his own that the seed was planted for his own “miracle in 406.”

A performance evaluation from senior Ryan Doyle reinforced the value in studying Coach Brooks and his team.

An exploratory trip to Lake Placid in January 2005, with one student, resulted in successful meetings with Liz De Fazio, Director of the Olympic Museum and several staff members of the NY Olympic Regional Development Authority. A chance meeting with a mother and her son in the Olympic Museum provided Mussari with an invaluable contact for the project.

Lake Placid NY, was about to begin two weeks of celebration and a group of college seniors was about to begin the adventure of a lifetime. The Miracle At Placid project was off the ground.

A visit off the beaten track to Cheshire, Connecticut, proved invaluable in the beginning because Julie Marvel and her family are part of this nationwide hockey family that still looks to the 1980 Olympic victory on ice as the gold standard.

Marvel, her husband, John, and son, James, provided insight into the game that was needed to understand why this victory would mean so much, not just to the team but the country.

Julie Marvel also made sure all the students had the opportunity to follow up with their own interviews when she held two “news conference” teleconferences with the classes.

It was all starting to come together. The idea had become a mega project and it would be ready for presentation on May 7th at Practicum Expo. It will be forever part of the present on the Miracle At Placid Internet site dedicated to depicting the project. (www.miracleatplacid.com)

The centerpiece of the project will be the four half hour video pieces that will pull together the experience of the students working on their projects as they journeyed through time to a place where a miracle happened.

Brooks took him team and Mussari took his students to a place where they could be proud of what they had learned and done.

While in Lake Placid, Students attended the world premier of Mark’s Nathanson’s Lake Placid: An Olympic History. The met the producer and they were very taken with his work.

A second trip to Lake Placid, two weeks later with two different students recorded in video, pictures, words and artwork the relighting of the Olympic cauldron to kick off the events to mark the anniversary. It was a Hollywood evening that Mother Nature scripted …. Snow falling gently on people from Lake Placid and athletes from every nation, torches providing a glow for the flags floating in beneath the children who carried them onto the stage, the cheering bystanders as the flame burst into a sky already ablaze with fireworks.

The mood was set, the celebration had begun. It was all related to the students at home piecing together their projects as the story unfolded 350 miles away.

The final trip to the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, on February 21, put seven young women in Lake Placid for three days of unrivaled pageantry and incredible discoveries.

It was kicked off with a book signing with Wayne Coffey, author of The Boys of Winter, at the Bookstore Plus and then followed by with a teleconference weeks later so the class could share the knowledge he accumulated about this team that took on the Russians and won. Coffey was generous with his time and anecdotes in both places and helped to expand the perception of the event for these students who were not born in 1980.

They were able to do the same with Ross Bernstein in the classroom. He wrote the book “Remembering Herbie” and shared the philosophy and values of the man who decided his team could learn to play a different type of game of hockey and earn a place in Olympic history.

The 80 Minute Beach Party at Mirror Lake was a highlight, because the students fanned out and interviewed several members of the 1980 team that had arrived for the anniversary events as well as villagers who were eager to share their memories of that historic victory. It was the first time they went to a beach party in parkas, ugg boots, hats, gloves. Students wrote with pencils because the ink in their pens kept freezing.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts became one of our favorite haunts. There, students attended the world premiere of Mark’s Nathanson’s Lake Placid: An Olympic History. The met the producer and they were very taken with his work. On a second visit they attended the panel discussion The last of the Small Games. After the event they met and interviewed Dr. John Lucas, Professor Emeritus, Penn State University. Dr. Lucas is a recognized expert on the Olympics.

The next day was a marathon of memories that started with a visit to the Olympic Museum where director Liz DeFazio welcomed them to a world that began with the 1932 Olympics and ended in 1980. As they wound their way through memorabilia of those games, they found they were not the only visitors. They were joined by more members of the 1980 team who didn’t mind the journey back to the time when they made America proud. The students were able to take pictures, interview players, and lead them to Doc who was busy with his camera videotaping them as they went about their work.

The next stop was ORDA, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, to pick up credentials for the gala celebration that evening in the arena. The students were introduced to Sandy Caligorie, the Director of Communications, and his assistant, Stephanie Ryan. To watch what they planned and how it unfolded was a semester in Public Relations 101 crammed into an hour.

They attended to the smallest detail and executed what amounted to another Olympics. It was like watching an empty canvas turn into a masterpiece. And on a day when you would think the office at the Olympic Center would be in chaos, they took the time to chat about the projects the students were doing and how they could be helpful to them.

Ryan was also a teleconference guest in the classroom several weeks later and devoted part of an afternoon to explaining the back story to putting together the anniversary events of the 1980 games.

The dedication of the Herb Brooks Arena was excitement in a perfectly wrapped package. It was beautifully orchestrated and unfolded without a hitch. The students literally had a bird’s eye view as the widow of Brooks and their son and daughter were on stage for the unveiling of the plaque that will forever memorialize the coach of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team that kept the gold in the USA.

It was an evening packed with performances by Olympic champions who came to look back on those glorious days of 1980 when the world was watching and looking for some good news. They gave it to us then and this night when they danced and walked on the ice rink where it all began.

Before the evening ended, students met and had their pictures taken withPatti Brooks and her daughter, Kelly Paradise. “The meeting brought a magical evening to a magical close” said Angela Ponte, one of the student miracle workers.

The trip to Lake Placid was glorious, and it was to continue through the phone lines for the next two months as the consultants eagerly shared their stories with all members of the class.







Guest lectures were scheduled with Mike Lewis, a local TV anchor, musician and songwriter. Lewis composed original music for the project. It will be showcased on Sunday, May 8, at 10:15 AM in The Snyder Room of the Campus Center.

Colleen Curley, an artist from Philadelphia with roots in Scranton, PA, spent an afternoon with the King’s College Miracle team in Mussari’s seminar room. Curley is contributing original artwork for the project.

D.J. Pizzani, a senior Mass Comm Major on internship in NJ, worked on all of the promotional pieces for the Miracle at Placid Project.

Mark Bailey, who completed his degree requirements in December, consulted and constructed the original website. Bailey saw to it that the site went live at approximately the same time the 1980 Rink, Herb Brooks Arena was being dedicated.

Calls were arranged with Patti Brooks and her daughter, Kelly, and son, Danny, so the students could ask questions about Brooks that would help to fill in the gaps in what they were doing.

Greg O’Brien from innovative Sound provided his music for the project. O’Brien will perform three of his original compositions at the Senior Breakfast. Known as the International voice of ESPN, O’Brien met Mussari at the relighting of the Olympic Cauldron in February, and he will be featured in one of the four proposed episodes.

For fifteen weeks, Mussari and his students learned about the man and the dad behind the coach that the rest of the world only caught a glimpse of from books and films.

Commenting on the Miracle at Placid project, Mussari said, “It is the biggest, the best and the last one I will do as a teacher.” On Sunday, May 8, 2005, Mussari and his wife will teach their last class at King’s College. They will end their careers with a screening of the first of their four part series on the Miracle At Lake Placid.