2021: Dare To Make History!

It all started for us on a frozen pond next to our home in a small town in North Dakota.  We were born into a hockey family, in a hockey state.  So, fun meant playing hockey with our four older brothers and their friends. We quickly fell head over heels for the sport and wanted to take our efforts off the pond and onto the rink, but we came across a slight problem – no girls hockey teams, at least not until we were a little bit older. Well, we thought, no problem. We’ll just play on boy’s teams.

While playing with boys allowed us to participate competitively in a sport we adored, doing so was not always easy.  Our male counterparts — and their parents — increasingly questioned our abilities due to our gender. This was the first time we heard comments along those lines, as if we were less capable because we were girls. But it wasn’t the last time — it was just the beginning. This was our introduction to our learning that women and girls are fighting to compete on a level playing field with men in more than just sports – in the workplace and in life.

Playing on small-town teams nurtured big dreams, and with hard work, those big dreams became reality. While in retrospect, our big dreams were audacious (what 8-year-old twins can legitimately dream of playing in the Olympics and ultimately winning a gold medal together?) we did not dream that our time competing on the world stage would illuminate the blatant inequalities which women in our sport faced.  Early in our careers, we realized that we were going to have to do more to be treated equitably — that from the time we put our skates on, we were already behind.

As our hockey careers skyrocketed, we refused to allow roadblocks and discrimination to deter us from pursuing gender equity – even taking on our governing body, USA Hockey. Along with our teammates, we put our hard-fought careers on the line by threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championships, jeopardizing our ability to compete in the 2018 Olympics, unless we made substantial progress on our demands for more equitable treatment. Our actions lead to a four-year agreement to provide more financial support to players, more equitable treatment compared to the men’s and boy’s programs, more equitable marketing and promotional support, and the creation of a women’s advisory council to further support the growth of women’s and girl’s ice hockey in America.

Our success, as well as that of our team’s, thrust us into the center of the struggle for gender equity, both for women in hockey and sports, as well as society at large. We soon noticed how the impact of our actions affected others looking for change. One of the lessons from our mother that transcended beyond sports was to cheer for the one behind.  When we competed against each other in sports, our mother was faced with the dilemma of which twin to cheer for.  Her solution was easy, to cheer for the one behind. This became one of our rallying cries.

At one of our games, one girl had a sign that said, ‘Thank you for being bold.’ The feeling of mutual respect ran both ways. Our stand may have been built around women’s hockey and the long-term inequities faced by the women’s national team, but it addressed much more, and we were gratified that so many saw and felt that. While the specifics of what we were able to accomplish for women’s hockey represent significant strides for our sport, we hope our actions will transcend hockey and sports. We hope to inspire all young athletes, career women, and any others facing inequality in their journey to Be Bold, achieve their dreams, and always cheer for the one behind.

We have always believed that winning a gold medal is not the end of our journey.  Over time, the individual games will likely fade from memories. Our medals will be mentioned. But the changes we have brought to women’s hockey and the opportunities we have created for girls to dream big, just as we did, will have a lasting impact. They will go down in history. And we hope our gold medals will give us an advocacy platform — and that we will ultimately be remembered for the differences we made in our sport – and for changes we have helped bring to underserved communities around the country – and the differences we will continue to fight for in the years ahead. It is our mission that every girl or woman who picks up a hockey stick knows that she can reach greatness, regardless of her gender.

Some might measure our accomplishments playing hockey by wins, titles, or medals. To us, that would be a waste of all the hard work and effort that yielded Olympic success and glory.   After we won our gold medals, we skated around an ice rick in South Korea with an American flag draped around our shoulders, hugging each other.  True, we shared a milestone moment with just the two of us. We had done it together. But in that hug was also a sigh of relief. We had sacrificed so much to accomplish something that was never guaranteed. We learned that winning a sports competition–even winning an Olympic gold medal–has its limits. What it means to be a winner has no limits and is up to us to define. Knowing that girls have traditionally been told they are less than, we want to be examples for girls everywhere that they can be more than– more than ever before.

We wrote Dare to Make History: Chasing a Dream and Fighting for Equity to chronicle our journey to inspire a new generation of girls to fight for any goals which they deem worthy, in any facet of life. In the book, we recount our journey to the pinnacle of our sport, our current efforts along with almost 150 other elite international hockey players to start a new professional women’s hockey league, our training to come back and make another national team after giving birth, our efforts to advance the interests of disadvantaged communities in closing the digital divide, and our ongoing contributions as role models championing the dreams of future generations of girls in sports, education, and the workplace.

This is not a hockey book. It is not a girl’s book. It is a book about the importance of the fight for equity, particularly gender equity.  We were constantly told that we could not succeed — that we should be content to settle for less.  But we had bigger dreams — and dared to make history.

This guest post was authored by Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux

Twins Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson started playing ice hockey with their four older brothers and their friends on a frozen pond next to their home in North Dakota. There were no girls hockey teams, but no problem; they just played on boys teams.

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