Remarks to the United States Olympic Hockey Team

 

September 24, 1987

 

Well, we're delighted to have all of you here today. My thanks to the players and the coaches and managers and supporters of the U.S. hockey team for coming by and, also, to all of the Washington Capitals. I see Dave Christian is here. Dave is a Cap, of course, but he was also on the 1980 championship Olympic team. And his dad, who is with us here today, as well, was on the 1960 gold medal team. And, Dave, I don't know if you're feeling any divided loyalties about Friday's game, but I certainly am. So I think I'll stick to the heroic political posture I struck the last time all of you were here, and I'll refuse to take a position. [laughter]

 

But all of us are here today to boost the Olympic effort and especially our hockey team. I don't have to tell you what a great privilege it is to be on this team. I think you know the U.S. Olympic team seems to have permanently captured the American imagination. Surely, the storybook victories of 1960 and 1980, when young American athletes, given little chance for the gold medal, won against far more experienced opponents. And they have a great deal to do with that, but it goes even deeper. I think Americans see in this team a national symbol, a symbol of what might be called the corny, homegrown conviction that victory can come to those who live by the amateur spirit, who play fair and by the rules, that nice guys in a tough world can finish first.

 

So, obviously, we wish all of you well. I know you've been working hard. You've been traveling far and wide and getting some terrific experience. In fact, Dave Peterson has said, ``You're a team with strength, size, talent, and even some trickery.'' Fellows, I could use you on Capitol Hill. [Laughter]

 

Now, I'm told that this year we're going to have another display of hockey expertise out here in the Rose Garden. The last time we tried that I was talked into hitting a puck, and I actually got it by the goalie for a score. At that time, I made my famous Shermanesque declaration: ``You will never see me hit another puck again as long as I live.'' And I was very firm about that. In fact, I think I told somebody my feet were set in cement on that issue. So, the sound you are about to hear is that of cement breaking up around my feet. [Laughter]

 

So, in addition to wishing all of you well, thanking your generous supporters, urging all Americans to get behind you, I will now proceed to hit another hockey puck -- or try to. [Laughter]

 

[After the President hit several hockey pucks, Coach David Peterson of the U.S. Olympic hockey team gave the President a team jersey. Rod Langway, a Washington Capitals team member, then gave the President a crystal replica of the U.S. Capitol.]

 

I can't say anything except the prayer that we once taught in my football team, when I was playing football. What we would always say was -- you knew you couldn't ask Him to help you win -- [laughter] -- both sides belonged to Him -- so, it used to be, ``May everyone do their best, may there be no injuries, and may everyone feel good about the result, whatever it is, because they will have done their best.''

 

Note: The President spoke at 1:16 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.