Here’s what you need to know about Monique before she takes the ice at Sochi:
1. She Learned to Play Hockey on a Frozen Swamp
Growing up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the Lamoureux backyard came equipped with a frozen swamp, where the girls would join their four older brothers in daylong scrimmages. A profile of the girls in ESPN W details their icy childhood.
Seeing the six Lamoureux children devoting their every afternoon and weekend to skating and shooting, some neighbors were left to wonder whether their father might not be coercing his young ones into pursuing hockey heroics. Jean-Pierre had led the University of North Dakota to two NCAA Men’s Hockey titles back in his own day. But the girls insist the only thing driving their commitment was sibling admiration, and love of the game:
“We weren’t playing hockey because our parents made us play, it was just something we gravitated toward because our brothers played,” Monique said. “It was something we could all do together as a group, whether it was on the coulee in the winter or street hockey in the summer.”
“Right away I just loved it and wanted to be like my brothers and follow them around,” Jocelyne said. “I remember spending a ton of time shooting and thinking it was cool. A lot of kids just wouldn’t think that was fun, but we always loved it.”
Their brother Jean-Philippe is a professional hockey goalie in the ECHL.
The girls don’t get much opportunity to play with their brothers anymore, but they’ll be living out those old swamp dreams, at least one more time out in Sochi. While taking silver in 2010 was all well and good, Jocelyn told ESPN:
“We aren’t satisfied yet. We are hungry for more and eventually want to be able to go out on top.”
2. She Gets Into Fights a Lot With Canadians
Team USA lost in the finals of the 2010 Olympics to a heavily favored Team Canada. Memories of that defeat seem to make the girls’ blood run a few degrees higher whenever the two teams face off. In two different exhibition games against Team Canada, the first in October, the second in December, the girls threw off their gloves, inspiring full team brawls.
In October, Monique collided with Canada’s star goalie Shannon Szbados late in the third period. Canadian defenseman Courtney Birchard was none to pleased and took Monique down onto the ice, inspiring Jocelyne to run to her defense. You can watch the ensuing carnage above.
In December, in the midst of a 4-1 Team USA victory, Jocelyne took exception to a dirty check thrown by some ruthless Canuck, and benches were subsequently emptied. U.S. coach Katey Stone said that, while she does not support fighting in hockey, “We will not be pushed around.”
3. Her Husband Spent Four Years in Afghanistan
In the summer after the Vancouver games, Monique gained a husband and a hyphenated last name. Lamoureux-Koll’s husband is Lance Corporal Taylor Kolls, who completed a four-year service commitment with the Marines in April of 2012.
The couple met in high school when Taylor’s younger sister, a teammate of Monique’s, introduced them. Taylor told ESPN W that he knew very early in their relationship that he wanted to marry her. But he also knew he wanted to be a Marine. And she knew she wanted to be an Olympic hockey player.
While she was earning a gold medal in Vancouver, Taylor was learning to operate a machine gun and watching out for IEDs. Kolls couldn’t follow the Olympic action from half a world away, but he showed his support by wearing a Team USA hat on her game days.
Now that he’s finally able to watch his wife compete, Kolls sees resonances between her competitive pride, and what he felt as a United States Marine:
I think it’s even more meaningful than before for me to see her wearing the uniform of our country, because I know what that meant to me. You don’t realize what we have here in this country until you leave and experience something else. Women in Afghanistan will never have the chance to do something like this. Just having electricity, being safe, free, being able to enjoy watching women playing hockey for a world championship. … We all don’t realize how lucky we are. We really are.
4. She Was the WCHA Scoring Champion in Her Freshman Year
Monique dominated the ice in college. By the end of her first season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, she led all rookies with 75 points in 40 games (39 goals, 36 assists). She was named both Western Collegiate Hockey Association rookie of the year and scoring champion for the 2008-2009 season.
She and her sister then transferred to the University of North Dakota, drawn by the chance to play for coach Brian Idalski, who’d previously coached at the Team USA Hockey Development Camps. In her subsequent seasons, Monique scored nearly a goal a game, netting 54 scores in 59 collegiate games.
5. The Twins Are Training to Be Sports Psychologists
Even while weathering the physical and mental demands of playing a Divison 1 sport, the twins were able to maintain 4.0 grade point averages throughout college. A profile in the University of North Dakota Magazine explains that the girls commitment to academics is motivated in part by an understanding that for a woman, there’s no path to big money in ice hockey:
“We want to play in three Olympics,” said senior forward and defensemen Monique Lamoureux. “There’s no NHL for us, and it’s something we’ve always known. Right now, we’re pursuing our dreams of playing hockey, but we know that we’re going to have to have careers after this.”
The girls both earned undergraduate degrees in physical education, exercise, science and wellness, and have begun work on master’s degrees in “kinesiology with an emphasis in sports psychology.”
But before she settles down into a career of helping athletes with their mental well-being, let’s hope Monique lays some serious sports-related psychological trauma on the women of Team Canada.