Sometimes there’s more than one barrier in your way when it comes to hockey. Finances, location, even gender come into play and make activities like hockey seem even more (or even less) attainable.
The Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne and Monique, know all about that and are focused on making changes at the local levels that will help make hockey more attainable for youths, particularly for girls and young women interested in playing.
To that end, they recently made a $5,000 donation to the Ed Snyder Foundation in Philadelphia.
“My sister and I, we always had each other growing up,” said Monique Lamoureux. “So, if there was a boy that maybe picked on us just because we were girls, it was always the two of us. We always had each other to lean on if there was any type of situation like that.
You see some girls that have a great relationship with all the people on the team and there’s no issues but you hear of other girls that, the boys kind of pick on her and it’s not a good situation. When you have situations like that, obviously the girls want to play girls hockey, so it really just kind of depends on the situation and it’s kind of a case-by-case basis.”
While the Lamoureuxs never faced any serious bullying their formative years, they were still the recipients of some less-than-desirable behavior from opponents and their parents, at least until they started at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota and were finally able to play on a girls team.
“My thought is that the way a boy acted or reacted was a reflection of how the parents felt,” Monique Lamoureux said. “Typically the parents that didn’t care for us or were yelling when we were on the ice it was usually their kid that was saying stuff on the ice as well.”
She counterbalanced that, by adding, “But then you had the parents – typically it was the moms – that thought it was awesome and great that we were playing on the boys’ teams, and usually their sons were the ones we were really good friends with.”
The negative behavior didn’t impact them too much, aside from possibly provide them with a bit more drive.
“Skating with the boys, we didn’t want to feel like we stood out because we weren’t good enough to play with them,” said Monique Lamoureux. “Our upbringing was always wanting to be the best and I think Jocelyne and I are a little bit different than most. We have this drive that, no matter what it is, whether it’s hockey, or working, we always want to put our best foot forward and put 100% into whatever we’re doing.”
The twins readily state that they’ve been afforded many an opportunity because of their access to, and prowess at, hockey. As such, it’s incredibly important to the both of them that kids everywhere have the chance to try sports in general, and hockey in particular. As such, the Lamoureuxs have regularly gone to the mats for girls’ hockey, particularly in their hometown of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
“We’re just trying to grow the numbers in Grand Forks,” said Monique Lamoureux. “It’s known as this hockey town but the girls registration numbers are actually very low, so we’re just trying to grow from the bottom-up.
“We have this platform with being on the national team, being able to kind of reach so many girls and influence so many girls to us that, to us, we said, okay, what are we going to do that’s going to last half our time playing hockey and to us it’s giving back to a town that’s given so much to us,” she added.
One way they’re doing that is by working with local girls’ teams, particularly the high school team, the Phantoms. When the twins were setting up a preseason high school camp for the girls team, Monique Lamoureux discovered that the girls team (there is a one to two ratio of girls teams to boys teams in Grand Forks) was given only half the budget of the same teams for boys, leaving them without small essentials such as breezers and little additions that would make them look more uniform on the ice.
“There are two high schools in town and they have one team,” Monique Lamoureux stated. “They have one less team to fund yet their budget is half as much as what each boys high school team gets. So what I did was for each player that signed up (for the camp) I donated X amount back into their budget. We were able to donate $1300 or $1400 dollars back into their budget for the season, so we almost doubled it.”
When they saw how effective that injection of money was, they realized they could make a larger impact by focusing on a bigger community.
“You know, in North Dakota we have local reach but thinking bigger picture, what can we do to make a bigger impact,” said Jocelyne Lamoureux. “Really utilizing the Snyder Foundation is something that’s definitely going to impact more kids. They’re already established and they’re such a great organization already, so that was really our goal in making that donation.”
“I know in Grand Forks people complain about the fees,” she added, “But you can sign your kid up and you know, have the fees waived. The town is willing to help kids out, but when you compare it to big-city hockey and what it costs on AAA teams, that’s nothing compared to what it costs here. Really, making an impact in a bigger city where there really is a huge socioeconomic difference from top to bottom, it really is about having the bigger scope to impact people.”