The camera films an open door inside a random suburban house. There is a collection of hats on a banister, and you can make out the edge of a table-top hockey game on the right side of the frame.
Then you see him: Joshua Sacco, four years old. He’s got chubby cheeks and anime eyes, and he’s wearing the same kind of tan jacket and blue dress shirt that U.S. national men’s hockey team coach Herb Brooks wore on Feb. 22, 1980, the day his Olympic team defeated the Soviets in what would forever be known as the Miracle On Ice.
He taps the air hockey table, and walks to the center of the room.
“Great moments are born from great opp-ah-toonies.”
What follows for the next minute and 25 seconds is a precious, instant classic clip in which a four-year-old kid recreates the Herb Brooks “Miracle” speech from memory.
And he acts the hell out of it: Yelling, pointing, never once breaking. It’s outstanding.
The speech hit YouTube on July 3, 2009. It’s since garnered close to 5.7 million views. After it went viral, Sacco was invited to deliver the speech in professional hockey locker rooms and before the Boston Red Sox’s home opener at Fenway.
He even had that rite of passage for every precocious Internet star: a spot on the “Ellen” show.
For those of us who remember this clip vividly, it’s amazing that it’s been nearly eight years. It hit before the Chicago Blackhawks’ dynasty. It hit two Winter Olympics ago. It hit when Auston Matthews was 11 years old.
So what happened to Josh Sacco, and how did this unexpected celebrity affect his life? We decided to find out as the Miracle On Ice turns 37 this week.
“To this day Josh, myself, and his mom Julie still find it surreal and almost unbelievable,” said his father Jim Sacco, in an interview with Puck Daddy. “Our only goal living in Tennessee at the time was to not have to make 10 DVDs to send up to Massachusetts and Vermont so relatives could see the video. I had a friend who was an IT guy who convinced me to just post it on YouTube, and send the link to our families. That was it.”
Josh Sacco is now 12 and, to the surprise of no one who watched that passion for the game pour out of him at four years old, he’s a hockey player.
He’s now in seventh grade, playing AAA elite hockey in Massachusetts, as well as AAU baseball. “He’s a very well rounded, smart kid, and we couldn’t be more proud,” said Jim Sacco.
The speech still follows Josh Sacco. “We get asked all the time about it and he acts embarrassed, but I know he is very proud,” said Jim Sacco.
There are still, eight years later, requests from organizations to use the video or for him to perform it. AT&T asked to use the clip in a commercial that ran during The Masters last year, for example.
But the only audience that gets to see his Herb Brooks impression live these days is the one in his own locker room. “His hockey teams still ask him to do the speech if it’s a big game, and he will,” said Jim Sacco.
That included a game in 2015, when his team went to the Bauer youth hockey tournament in Chicago. The opponent for Sacco’s team? Russia, of course. So his teammates asked him to do the Herb Brooks speech before the game, he obliged.
They beat the Russians, 4-3, in a game that played out exactly like the Miracle on Ice.
Must have been the speech.
Josh Sacco is a humble kid, and a polite one. He’s the kind of kid who dreams big, and dreams big about hockey. His father believes he’ll be a coach one day thanks to his hockey IQ, which is expected career path for a kid mimicking Herb Brooks at four years old, one supposes.
The Saccos still watch “Miracle” with regularity, and quote the movie to each other. That Josh’s speech went viral is a point of pride. It was also rather expensive: There was a lot of travel involved after the clip blew up, which wasn’t cheap. But Jim Sacco said they wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“Who else can say they did the things he did from age 5 to say age 10, meet so many people, gain so many lifelong friendships, was able to speak in front of 40,000 people at Fenway, speak to the 2010 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team, the 2014 U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team, and so, so many others?” he said.
“It was truly a miracle for us.”
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