Congratulations, Jocelyne and Monique

The Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne and Monique, who led the United States Olympic Women’s Hockey Team to a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, have been named recipients of the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt  Rough Rider Award, the state’s highest honor. Finally.

They are the first and only North Dakotans ever to win Winter Olympic Gold. And they did it in a stunning manner, Monique scoring a third-period goal against hockey superpower Canada’s national team to tie the gold medal game, and her sister Jocelyne scoring the game winner in a shootout. It was the third Olympic medal  for the Grand Forks, ND, natives–they won silver in 2010 and 2014.

Just a week after the Olympics, I joined a chorus (I think–I know of at least one powerful Legislator and I’m guessing there were others) of North Dakotans who urged Governor Doug Burgum to give them the award. In a post on this blog on March 2, 2018, I said “No other North Dakotan has won more than one medal at any Olympics. The Lamoureux sisters now have a gold hanging beside their silvers. I hope Governor Burgum will honor them. Right now.”

“Right now” should have happened. The two were such obvious candidates for the award. But Burgum was noncommittal. So it didn’t happen and a lot of us were disappointed. A year went by, then another, and we feared it might not ever happen.

But our fears were unwarranted. Burgum was simply waiting for an election year to come around, hoping the announcement would trigger some more Grand Forks County and North Dakota hockey fans into voting for him. Hence yesterday’s announcement, just a few months before he has to stand for re-election.

Turns out he doesn’t need much help this year, with North Dakota’s Democratic-NPL Party mostly going into semi-permanent hibernation, but on the surface, it sure looks like a calculated political move.

Anyway, I don’t want to let that detract from the incredible achievements of these two North Dakotans, so richly deserving of this honor. I’ll just reprint here what I wrote two years ago, including a quote from one of their coaches, who said “Those two deserve it more than anybody else.”

Now they’ve got it. Congratulations, Monique and Jocelyne. And thank you Doug Burgum, and your fellow selection committee members, Claudia Berg and Al Jaeger.

Colonel Jocelyne & Colonel Monique

March 2, 2018

Forty-three North Dakotans have been honored with the rank of Colonel in the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt Rough Riders since North Dakota began giving its highest award to its highest achievers in 1961. It’s time to make it forty-five.

The award was created by former Governor William L. Guy as part of North Dakota’s commemoration of the Dakota Territory Centennial, to recognize current or former North Dakotans “who have been influenced by our state in achieving national recognition in  their fields of endeavor, thereby reflecting credit and honor on North Dakota and its citizens.”

Its first recipient was Lawrence Welk, famous for bringing his music and his North Dakota German-Russian accent into the national spotlight. It was presented by Gov. Guy just 8 months into his first term as Governor, in August of 1961, followed closely by Broadway actress Dorothy Stickney just three months later.

Its ranks include ten people who have excelled in the arts, a few journalists, a couple of high-ranking military officers and educators, nine business leaders, and just four athletes. There are 33 male Colonels and just 10 females.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson
Monique Lamoureux-Morando

Governor Burgum can change a few of those numbers (and make history) by appointing twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando to the North Dakota Rough Riders Hall of Fame.

As athletes, they would join Roger Maris, Cliff “Fido” Purpur, Casper Oimoen and Phil Jackson—pretty heady company. You know about the achievements of Maris and Jackson. The Lamoureux sisters have something in common with the other two. Purpur was the first North Dakotan to play in the National Hockey League and later was the hockey coach at UND, where the sisters played hockey in college. Oimoen was a ski jumper who competed in the 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics. He did not win a medal.

Only two North Dakotans other than the Lamoureux sisters have won Winter Olympics medals: John Noah of Fargo was on the silver medal U.S. Men’s Hockey team in 1952, and Ken Purpur, younger brother of Fido, was a member of the 1956 men’s team which also took silver. Three others have won medals at the Summer Olympics: track stars John Bennet and Cliff Cushman and boxer Virgil Hill. All won silver. Oh, two more won silvers in the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014—a pair of sisters named Lamoureux.

But until last month no North Dakotan had ever won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, and no North Dakotan playing for a U. S. team had ever brought home a gold medal from the Summer Olympics. I’m qualifying that statement with the words “U.S. team” because in 1928, a woman named Ethel Catherwood, who was actually born in the small town of Hannah, North Dakota, along the Canadian border, but raised in Saskatchewan, won the gold in the high jump at the Summer Olympics competing for Team Canada. So she doesn’t count.

Olympic Gold Medalists. Two of them. The first ever for North Dakota. And they didn’t just win them for themselves—they won them for their country. In a very big way. Monique tied the score with Team Canada near the end of regulation play to send the game into overtime, and Jocelyne scored the winning goal in the subsequent shootout. If any pair of North Dakotans has ever “reflected credit and honor” on their home state, it is these two.

Doug Burgum’s been in office nearly 15 months and hasn’t yet nominated anyone to the Rough Riders Hall of Fame. Now he can make history by inducting two people at once.

Guy, who created the Hall of Fame, made 11 appointments, the most of any governor. Art Link made 8, Allen Olson just 3, George Sinner 4, Ed Schafer 6, John Hoeven 7 and Jack Dalrymple 6.  Interestingly, Burgum himself is a member, appointed by Hoeven in 2009 for his business achievements.

In fact, of the all the appointees (13) since Hoeven took office in 2001, seven have come from the business world and only two of the 13 were women—Sister Thomas Welder, President of the University of Mary, and author Louise Erdrich. Old white men were the Colonels of choice of Hoeven and Dalrymple, although Hoeven did appoint the first Native American, Medal of Honor winner Woodrow Wilson Keeble. You can look at the whole list and read their biographies here.

But those are not the reasons to give the honor of Colonel in the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt Rough Riders Hall of Fame to the Lamoureux sisters. They have earned this honor in a way no other recipient of the award has earned it.

Their former UND coach said “Those kids worked so hard for so many years to be prepared for that moment. They put in pre-dawn workouts. They sprinted around the Cushman Field track when nobody was around. They found ice time at Ralph Engelstad Arena to hone their skills”

And another UND coach said “Those two deserve it more than anybody else. They’ve worked longer and harder than anyone. They’ve dedicated their lives to winning a gold medal.”

No other North Dakotan has won more than one medal at any Olympics. The Lamoureux sisters now have a gold hanging beside their silvers. I hope Governor Burgum will honor them. Right now.

 

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