Monique Lamoureux-Morando, a standout hockey player for Team USA, gave her country a reason to stay up entirely too late a couple of months ago when she scored the game-tying goal for the Americans in the Olympic gold medal game against Canada.
When her twin sister Jocelyne scored in the shootout to help clinch the gold, it was the culmination of years of experience playing hockey for both.
But the journey also included playing more sports than can be counted on one hand.
Before she was a star hockey player, Lamoureux-Morando was the very definition of a multi-sport athlete. The benefits are as numerous as the number of sports she played.
Lamoureux-Morando’s parents, Pierre and Linda, had a simple philosophy when it came to activities for their kids.
“Growing up, I definitely have to give credit to our parents,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “They put us in any sport that was available. If it wasn’t hockey season, we weren’t playing hockey.”
No, really. The twins did just about everything. There was just one rule: If you started a season, you had to at least finish it.
“We played soccer, we swam, we had gymnastics for a while, we played basketball on the middle school team,” Lamoureux-Morando said, and she wasn’t finished. “We did throwing in track, played baseball and danced for eight years. Pretty much any sport that was available, our parents were more than willing to put us in it.”
Looking back on her experience growing up, Lamoureux-Morando says the benefits are easy to recognize.
“It made us well-rounded athletes, being able to move in different athletic ways,” she said. “And it made it so, when hockey season came around, we were so excited to play hockey. You hadn’t been playing for months and you were getting ready for a season, and you were so excited.”
Burnout is a big reason youth athletes – particularly hockey players – stop playing. Keeping things fresh is essential.
“We did all these other sports just because we loved being in other activities. We weren’t doing it to be better hockey players, we just wanted to be better athletes,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “In this day and age, parents lose sight and get so focused on one sport that I think kids can lose love for the game and whatever sport they’re playing. It doesn’t round them out as athletes.”
She loved soccer so much, in fact, that she and her sister were “pretty bummed” when they got to high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and determined that their schedules wouldn’t let them play both hockey and soccer.
“I think kids need to play more sports, especially if they play hockey,” she said. “Otherwise the season ends, and then there are spring leagues.”
Following the same model
Lamoureux-Morando is a world-class athlete and has more sport-specific training these days. But she still likes to avoid ruts and doesn’t mind stepping away from hockey.
“I don’t really participate in other activities, but the way we train and the conditioning we do, there is so much different stuff to keep things fresh. Doing the same things over and over gets boring, so changing it up is important – and that’s a credit to my husband (Anthony Morando),” she said. “We’re always doing different things and finding unique ways to do conditioning.
“When hockey season is over, even now, I’m ready to be off the ice for a while. The body needs a break and needs to recover. I personally love being in the gym training, and it’s not hard for me to do that.”
The best advice
Lamoureux-Morando is 28 and a veteran on the U.S. Women’s National Team. She’s a three-time Olympic medalist (silver in 2010 and 2014, gold in 2018) and a six-time World Championship gold medalist.
“I think the trend I noticed is that the older players on the Olympic Team tended to play a lot of sports growing up and now maybe we’re seeing the younger players doing just one or two sports,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important for kids to do different activities. It gives them a chance to figure out what they love to do.”
She loves playing hockey, but she grew up loving many sports. And decades after her varied athletic journey began, Lamoureux-Morando became an Olympic hero.
“You see it now how beneficial it is for kids to be playing multiple sports,” she said. “Hopefully parents start paying attention to that.”