Despite medaling in every Olympics since ice hockey became an official women’s sport in 1998, members of the U.S. women’s hockey team were not compensated the same as their male counterparts. That is, until March 2017, after a player boycott and congressional lobbying encouraged the USA Hockey organization to provide equal pay and resources to both the men’s and women’s teams.
At the forefront of that fight were the Lamoureux sisters, 28-year-old twins, who were also instrumental in helping Team USA win gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Games in South Korea on Thursday.
“We feel we accomplished a lot with USA Hockey, with the contract we were able to sign. There’s a lot of legwork to grow the sport to let girls know you can play this sport and that it’s not just for boys,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I think there’s definitely a lot of growth that still needs to happen. USA Hockey is taking strides to help grow participation for younger girls.”
The renegotiated contract included higher salaries ($70,000 per year with the chance to make $100,000 in years when an Olympic gold medal is won), travel accommodations and insurance on par with the men’s team, and the same day rate as the men’s team players (previously, men received on average 210 percent more each day than women.) There’s also a greater focus now placed on encouraging young girls to play hockey, a nationwide initiative meant to match the $3.5 million annual National Team Development program.
“I think 2017 was a year for women, and in terms of what our team was able to accomplish as far as what we did in the spring, we’ve built off that,” says Monique Lamoureux. And with the Olympics, she’s excited “to put women’s hockey on display for the world to see.”
And Jocelyne did just that on Thursday when the forward scored the match-winning penalty shot — a move she nicknamed ‘Oops, I did it again,’ according to the BBC — during a sudden-death shoot-out with long-standing rival Canada.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018
After the games, where they hope to win with some new hardware, the Lamoureux sisters, both of whom are married, plan on starting families upon returning stateside.
For Monique, she doesn’t plan to retire after becoming a mom. “I would like to come back and continue to play,” she says. “I wouldn’t say it’s frowned upon, but some wonder if you’ll come back and play after kids. Your priority would be kids, they think. But no one would tell a man to pick between his job and passion and kids.”
Monique cites Serena Williams as a figure who inspires her to win big during competition and build a meaningful personal life. “I think she’s showing women all over the world you can have it all. You can have a family, be married, and still pursue what you’re passionate about. To see debatably one of best athletes of all time doing that and coming back after having a child says a lot about women in this day and age.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
What 11 Olympians packed to make PyeongChang feel a little more like home