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Springfield College Film Festival ‘The Athlete In Film’ Opens With Mike Eruzione

May 14, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., March 14, 2006 -- Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team and scorer of the goal leading to the win that “Sports Illustrated” described as “the #1 sports moment of the century,” will open Springfield College’s 2006 film festival, “The Athlete in Film,” on Monday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in Appleton Auditorium of Fuller Arts Center on the campus.

Eruzione will introduce “Miracle,” the 2004 film about the team which dramatically beat the world champion Soviet Union at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. The U.S. team went on to capture Olympic gold by defeating Finland in the finals.

At the free public event, Eruzione will compare his Olympic experiences against the movie version, and will offer strategies for success in athletics and life as exemplified by the winning team and coach. He also will discuss his leadership strategies that led to his being named team captain and how those qualities contributed to the team’s victory on the ice. After the screening, he will answer questions.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor and starring Kurt Russell as the demanding and driven coach Herb Brooks, “Miracle” displays how dedication to teamwork, discipline, and personal determination transformed a lose bunch of young American college hockey players into an unyielding team able to defeat the Soviet powerhouse. O’Connor cast many actual hockey players in the film to deliver exciting sports action as well as a compelling portrait of a complex coach and his astonishing teambuilding techniques.

According to Springfield College Professor of English and Film Carol Mitchell, “It was a team that inspired the nation. At a time of glacial Cold War tensions, the patriotic overtones of this victory were enormously important to Americans.”

Mitchell said that the film “Miracle” is a prime example of the theme of triumph of the underdog, which is a recurring element in American sports film. “We saw this theme in other films in this festival such as “Seabiscuit,” the film about the small horse who overcame obstacles and injuries to become a winner in the Depression Era.” Mitchell cites “Cinderella Man,” “Remember the Titans,” and “Hoosiers” as other inspiring examples which she includes in the new course that she teaches at Springfield College, “The Athlete in Film.”

The “Miracle” team received many accolades after winning the gold medal, including being inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and being chosen to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Eruzione, who excelled as a college student in baseball, football and hockey, finished his college career as the third leading hockey scorer in Boston University’s history. He was regarded as the best defensive forward in the Hockey East Conference, and eventually was inducted into BU’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He later played on two U.S. national hockey teams and subsequently played for two years in the International Hockey league, where he won the McKenzie award as the most outstanding American-born player.

After the victory in Lake Placid, Eruzione spent several years as a sports commentator for Madison Square Garden, and for ABC-TV’s Olympics coverage in Sarajevo, Los Angeles, and Calgary. He also did broadcasting for CBS-TV in 1992 in Albertville, France and in 1994 at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Recently, he provided commentary for NBC-TV at the Torino Winter Olympic Games. Currently, he is Boston University’s director of development for athletics, and represents major corporations as their spokesperson and/or motivational speaker. He is active in fund raising for the U.S. Olympic Committee and also for several charitable youth organizations.

The final film in Springfield College’s “The Athlete in Film” festival series will be “Bend It Like Beckham,” the coming-of-age comedy about a young woman whose passion is soccer, April 11, at 7 p.m., in Appleton Auditorium of Fuller Arts Center on the campus. A panel discussion regarding “Obstacles and Opportunities for Women in Athletics” will follow.

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