Monday Motivation: Inspirational Speeches

When things get hard between training, games and competition, it is easy for athletes to lose sight of what they love about their sport. Day after day of hard work can take a toll on you mentally and physically if you don’t take care of yourself. Other times, you may struggle with motivating yourself to do all the little things. Throughout sports history, athletes and coaches of all ages have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Their gift to all us athletes and fans of sport is not only their remarkable playing ability, but their timeless words to keep you motivated. Take a look.

Lou Gherig “Farewell to Baseball”

After being diagnosed with ALS, now called Lou Gherig’s Disease, Gherig had to step away from his legendary career with the New York Yankees. While others may have wallowed in the tragedy of acquiring an incurable disease, Gherig considered himself “the luckiest man alive”.

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

– Lou Gehrig


Herb Brooks before the medal round in the 1980 Winter Olympics vs. Russia

Known today as the “Miracle On Ice”, this hockey game was one of the most prominent moments in US sports during the 20th century. The US team overcame all odds to beat the highly favored Soviets on home ice in Lake Placid New York. They went on to win the gold and break a four year gold-medal streak set by the Russians. This speech is by their head coach, Herb Brooks.

“Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One game; if we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can. Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.

 You were born to be hockey players—every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ’em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it!”

Jimmy Valvano ESPY Courage Award Speech

Jimmy V was NC State’s basketball coach who led the team to a national championship in 1973. His life, but not his “mind and spirit” was changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. In 1993 he was awarded the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award and delivered a speech at the ceremony that got millions of people turning their heads to the cancer cause. Almost a month after his speech, Jimmy V passed away. Before his death he found the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. It’s motto is “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up”.


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