Great Teams Hold Themselves and Others Accountable

Some favorite expressions of small children: “It's not my fault. They made me do it. … I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It's not my job. No one told me. It couldn't be helped.” True freedom begins and ends with personal accountability.


Do you recognize the name Gary Smith? Probably not. But if you are any sort of sports fan, you have seen the image of Gary Smith over and over.

Gary Smith was an important member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. “Smitty” wasn't a player; he wasn't a coach. He was the athletic trainer for the team. And like every member of the team, he did his job. If he didn't do his job, we may not have won at Lake Placid. That's the truth.

So when did you see Smitty? Think of Mike Eruzione scoring the go-ahead, and eventual winning, goal against the Soviet Union. Think of the next few moments of footage, of the bedlam and celebrating. You remember that guy on the U.S. bench, the guy pumping his fists, a white towel in his hand; he had the eyeglasses with the big lenses and dark rims; he had on that blue pullover with USA stitched on it. That is Smitty.

Gary Smith was the trainer of the University of Minnesota hockey team when Herb Brooks was its coach. The two men worked well together. When Herb was named coach of the 1980 U.S. team, the USOC let him know that it had assigned him a trainer. Herb said thanks but let the USOC know that the team already had a trainer. Like everyone ...

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