Wolfpack: One Chance is All You Need

May 07, 2019, 11:36 a.m. (ET)

By Mike Barminski, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder

When I was in second grade, I did my first biography report ever on USA track star, Jesse Owens. I can still riddle off a few random facts about him: he was born in Alabama, Jesse wasn’t his actual first name, he attended The Ohio State University and, of course, he won four gold medals for Team USA in the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games. However, one thing Jesse said always stuck with me more than any random fact.

“One chance is all you need.”

When I first read that quote at the age of 8, it didn’t take on the meaning I think Owens intended it to have. I was confused. What was my “chance?” All I “needed” to do was something, for what? Nonetheless, it always was there in the back of my head.

To someone who doesn’t play a sport at an Olympic-caliber level, 2019 may not seem like a big, important year. Those are normally the even numbered years: Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 or LA 2028. However, it’s the preceding years before the Olympic Games like 2019, that either see dreams come to life or have dreams fade into the background for new ones in the future. I’ve seen my fair share of the latter. I remember not going to London 2012 and I remember tearing down my poster of Christ the Redeemer after Rio 2016. Despite those moments, the dream has never changed…just the year.

“One chance is all you need.”

Our “chance” is to claim a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games through performing at the Hockey Series Final this year in India, then advancing onto the next round, as well as the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

We have a huge year ahead of us and there is a lot at stake. But 2019 has been in our sights. We’ve known about this chance for quite some time.

As a matter of fact, we, as a team placed a plan together two years ago. I can still remember sitting in the humid hotel meeting room in Trinidad and Tobago. We had just finished third in the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 after winning in shootouts against Russia. All of us in that room knew that we needed to set a common goal, something we could all get behind. The Wolfpack agreed: qualify for the Olympics Game. We drew out the map of the next few years and what it would look like – training routines, camps, tours, tournaments, fitness even nutrition. 2017 is in the books. 2018 is old news. It’s time for 2019.

Coming into the FIH Series Finals and Pan American Games tournaments as the 25th ranked team in the world isn’t a big surprise for us. We have been an extremely young team the past five years and have had to face the adversity of being less experienced and far younger than our opponents for quite some time. But, with that comes extreme growth. Growth like beating a top-20 ranked team like France, two years ago. Growth like beating a top-10 ranked team like Ireland for the first time since I can remember, this past summer. These victories didn’t qualify us for the Olympic Games or any other tournament, they didn’t even give us more points for our World Ranking. But what it did give us, was the ability to know that if the chance came, we could do it.

I believe in this team. I believe in our dream. I believe in the words of Jesse Owen. I know “One chance is all we need.”

Now, playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jesse’s quote has taken on a new form for me. The question of ‘what my chance was’ that had no direction before, is now clear. I know my chance and I know what my chance is for.

This article is featured in the 2019 issue of FHLife magazine. To read more inspiring, knowledge-packed and fun features revolving around hockey, fitness, healthy eating and how to strengthen your game, subscribe to our quarterly publication by clicking here.