Mike Eruzione was impressed from the start. He had never seen anything quite like the Festival's opening ceremony.
"I loved the whole hoopla," he said. "It was the first feeling I ever got of what the Olympics were all about--the marching in the opening ceremonies, the torch, the balloons released. I thought, 'Wow, if this is what the Festival is like, I wonder what the Olympics are like.' "
He wasn't sure he'd find out. Eruzione was 23 when he arrived at the 1979 Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs, two years removed from college and older than most of his fellow competitors.
That didn't bode well for his chances of making the Olympic team. Neither did the Festival's selection process. The coaches chose players for each of the competing squads with the leftovers lumped together on the Great Lakes team.