From Olympic heroes to North Dakota icons

Lamoureux twins, former UND student athletes, receive state’s highest honor

Presenting the Rough Rider Award and unveiling the painting for the North Dakota Hall of Fame are, from the left, Gov. Doug Burgum, State Historical Society Director Bill Peterson and Secretary of State Al Jaeger. UND alums Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson received the award last week during a ceremony at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today

Gordon Stafford, director of girl’s hockey at the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minn., remembers the reaction of the team’s scout the first time he saw ninth grade twins – Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson – play hockey.

It was in 2004, and Stafford compared the event to the scene in the 1975 movie “Jaws” when the main character got his first look at the gigantic shark he was hunting and told the ship’s captain, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson

“These girls were unique, and they really did change the women’s game,” Stafford noted. “They changed the way USA Hockey looked at the women’s game, and they changed the way Canada looked at the women’s game.”

Stafford was one of several speakers who came to Ralph Engelstad Arena on the UND campus in Grand Forks last week to honor the Lamoureux twins as they became the second youngest recipients and the only siblings ever inducted into the North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Hall of Fame. The state’s highest honor is presented to North Dakotans whose outstanding achievements in their field have been recognized on a national or international level.

“I can’t think of two individuals who are more perfectly deserving of this award,” said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, himself a Rough Rider Award recipient.

Monique Lamoureux-Morando

As Grand Forks natives and later as UND women’s hockey stars, the Lamoureuxs helped Shattuck-St. Mary’s win three national championships. They went on to win six World Championships, two Olympic silver medals and an Olympic gold medal before retiring from hockey in February of this year. Their recent book “Dare to Make History” covers the challenges and obstacles they faced as girl and women hockey players, as well as their battle for gender equity in the sport.

Winning Olympic gold

The former UND student athletes were propelled to international fame during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea when they led the U.S. women’s team to the gold medal, defeating arch-rival Canada 3-2 in a thrilling shootout. Monique’s goal late in the third period sent the game into overtime. Jocelyne’s highlight-reel, game-winning goal during the ensuing shootout enabled the U.S. to clinch its first gold medal in women’s hockey in 20 years.

“In the 2018 Olympics, there were only three states left that didn’t have a gold medal, and these two said, ‘We’re going to change that,’” Burgum said. “We’re also here to honor their work as powerful advocates for equity in sports. The legacy they’ll leave behind is not over yet; in many ways, it’s just beginning.”

In 2017, the sisters helped organize a successful effort that led to USA Hockey, the national organization that supports men’s and women’s amateur hockey, to provide greater equity and more benefits to women hockey players in training and competing for Team USA. The sisters also founded the Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux Foundation, which supports children in need through the funding of educational and extracurricular programs.

Leaders in action

“The saying ‘having the courage of your convictions’ means having the courage to do what you believe is right,” said UND President Andy Armacost, who welcomed guests, speakers and dignitaries to the ceremony. “Throughout every stage of their lives, Monique and Jocelyne have demonstrated what it means to be principled leaders in action.”

UND President Andrew Armacost speaks during the ceremony at Ralph Engelstad Arena to present the Rough Rider Award to Monique Lamoureux-Morando (left) and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (right). Photo by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today

Burgum was joined onstage by North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger and State Historical Society Director Bill Peterson to confer the Rough Rider Award on the Lamoureux sisters and unveil a painting of them that will hang in the Rough Rider Hall of Fame at the state Capitol in Bismarck. Monique and Jocelyn are the 45th and 46th recipients of the award, which this year marks its 60th anniversary.

Dr. Colleen Hacker, mental skills coach for USA Hockey, sent a video message in which she noted that few world athletes in any sport have ever won multiple world championships. After two silver medal finishes in the Olympics, Hacker recalled how the Lamoureux twins persevered.

“It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always smiles and success,” she said. “When many people would have been tempted to walk away rather than invest four more years, not the two of you.

“You made a commitment and a quest for excellence, and that’s exactly what you did four years later in PyeongChang,” Hacker continued. “I don’t think any two people had more to do with that gold medal than you, Jocelyne, and you, Monique.”

Video congratulations were sent from some of the Lamoureuxs’ former teammates on Team USA and from former UND assistant women’s hockey coach Peter Elander.

Comcast comes through

David Cohen, a Comcast Corp. senior advisor, partnered with Monique and Jocelyne to help shape their post-Olympic goals. During his remarks, he recounted the discrimination and inequitable treatment Jocelyne, Monique and their Team USA teammates had endured to play hockey at all levels. He and Comcast joined forces with the Lamoureux sisters to address the inequities they experienced.

“My question to them was: what do you want to do with your gold medal platform?” Cohen said. “Their answer told me everything.

“They didn’t talk about getting their picture on a Wheaties box, about making boatloads of money through commercial deals,” he recalled. “They asked how they could leverage their platform to do some good in the world to help kids who were growing up without the advantages that they had had as kids and to continue to address gender inequity issues.”

Shattuck-St. Mary’s girl’s hockey director Gordon Stafford speaks during the Rough Rider Award ceremony at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Patrick C. Miller

In accepting the Rough Rider Award, the Lamoureux twins thanked their parents, Linda and Pierre, and their four brothers – Jacque, Philippe, Mario and Pierre Paul – who showed them no mercy when they played hockey together on a frozen pond hear their home. They thanked their husbands, Anthony Morando and Brent Davidson, for their support. They also thanked Jody Hodgson, general manager of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, for providing them ice time and a place to practice as they trained for the Olympics.

Armacost noted that during their time at UND, Monique and Jocelyne epitomized the ideal of the student athlete, not only as outstanding hockey players, but also through their stellar academic achievements, each earning bachelor and master’s degrees from the University.

“Whether it’s on the ice as athletes, leading hockey teams to victory at the very highest levels of competition, in the classroom excelling as students, or championing the cause of gender equity in sports and in society, their example has enabled girls and women to pursue their dreams,” Armacost said.