Every day’s a good day for a miracle
And every day’s a good day to keep your spirits full
— From Ian McGirr’s “Miracles”
After Mikey Nichols suffered a broken neck in a head-first collision with the boards, friend and former teammate Ian McGirr, who played travel hockey last fall with the Monroe High School assistant captain, was inspired to write a tribute song.
Nichols served as the muse for the self-produced hip hop single, “Miracles,” whose poignant lyrics have resonated with supporters of the senior forward, who has vowed to one day stand on the same ice where he was critically injured.
Hundreds have taken to social media to promote McGirr’s song, which since its release on Wednesday night has received rave reviews on Twitter, largely from other scholastic ice hockey players from across the state, all of whom have rallied around the Nichols family.
A link to the song on SoundCloud.com is posted on an official Facebook page (https://facebook.com/prayformikey23) that Nichols’ parents created to provide daily updates of their son.
McGirr, a 17-year-old senior at St. Rose High School in Belmar, where he plays on the ice hockey team, deflects attention from himself as if he were trying to avoid a body check, making it abundantly clear that any story of the song’s burgeoning success should be exclusively about people’s love for Mikey, not his potential as an artist.
“I know that Ian and Mike had played together before, and I know from speaking with the St. Rose coaches the type of person that Ian is, what a great kid he is, so it just shows again (through the recording of the song),” Monroe coach Jerry Minter said.
“He’s using his musical talent as an outlet to show support for a former teammate and the hockey community. It hits everybody. Everyone knows that out on the ice, that (catastrophic injury) can happen to anyone.”
Hockey and hip hop music, according to McGirr, who sings all the vocals on “Miracles,” are the common bonds linking him and Nichols.
The last tweet Nichols made from his official Twitter account on the day he took the ice for that fateful Jan. 4 game against Vernon is a quote from hip hop recording artist Fabolous’ song “Change Up”: “I’m a team player, if I win then we won, they gon put us all in the hall of fame when we done.”
Earlier that same day, Nichols texted McGirr, who had been struggling of late with some life issues not all that uncommon to teenagers. “He said I want you to know that you can get through anything,” McGirr recalled.
“Whenever I’m down he would know without me even saying anything. He would let me know that he was there.”
A day after Nichols underwent surgery to repair a fractured C5 vertebra, his parents told NBC-TV that doctors said it was too early to tell if their son would ever walk or skate again, words that prompted McGirr to think his friend may need a miracle, thus the song’s title.
Al Michaels’ immortal play-by-play call counting down the final seconds of the U.S. men’s hockey team’s monumental upset of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games is skillfully superimposed throughout McGirr’s song.
The device, however, is overshadowed by McGirr’s well wrought lyrics. They speak directly at some points to Nichols and generally at other points to any player who has ever laced up a pair of skates.
Mike, I know you fightin’
I can’t wait until you home
When you standin’ on the ice and prove everybody wrong
I know it takes time but I know that you can do it
Nothing is impossible, just dream and then pursue it
According to the most recent update on Nichols’ official Facebook page, “the wheels are in motion to have Mikey moved from (Morristown Medical Center) to a rehab facility in the not too distant future.”
McGirr said he plans on selling copies of “Miracles” at skating rinks statewide and is hopeful that the song may soon be available on iTunes with all proceeds going directly to the Nichols family. More than $60,000 has already been raised at a giveforward.com web site (https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/xfr3/-prayformikey) for Nichols.
“Whether it’s a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars, it’s going to make a difference, and that’s all I care about,” said McGirr, who wrote the song in 90 minutes and recorded it the same day.
“I tried to keep it about Mike and hockey. The song is about everything Mikey is dealing with. Nothing is impossible. That’s what brings the whole meaning to the song.”
Of the song, Chris Jordan, music writer for N.J. Press Media, said: “The track alights the spirit with soaring synths set against a trap beat and the audio of Al Michaels’ call … McGirr’s heartfelt rhyme bespeaks of optimism and hope and his engaging style recalls the coolness and melodicism of hitmaker Drake.”
I know that times have changed, the memories they fade
But you think about the game, every second of the day
This game has been a part of me since I can first remember
Always looking forward to the cold months of December
When I spend them on the ponds, we would wait until they froze
We play when the sun rise and we play until it goes
McGirr said he looks forward to the day Nichols returns to the ice, a sentiment the entire hockey community shares, and one that is reflected in the closing lyrics of “Miracles.”
Mikey, never give up man
Even though you down, even though it’s hard
It’s only gonna get better
You see, you live for hockey
And hockey lives for you