Jess Myers

Hockey award winner Lamoureux puts the wraps on a “storybook career”

by Jess Myers April 26, 2011 in Hockey


In a perfect storybook world, Jacques Lamoureux would’ve spent sunny summer afternoons in his family’s backyard in North Dakota, watching the jets and bombers from the nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base fly overhead. He would’ve dreamed from a young age of using his skills as an athlete and an airman. And he would’ve skated from the pancake-flat prairie directly to the foot of the jagged Rocky Mountains to play for the Falcons at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

But life, as we know, has a way of messing up those storybooks from time to time. Lamoureux’s successful four-year college hockey career will come to a close where the fairytale would place him – in uniform, at the academy, earning accolades on the ice and preparing for a career in service to his country. Among those accolades is the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which he was given shortly after his college hockey career came to an abrupt end, with an overtime loss to Yale in a NCAA playoff game.

But his journey to be a college hockey hero was a bumpy one, and the long road to success can teach as many lessons about faith, family, fortitude, and knowing when the obstacles one faces – within and without – are more than one man can tackle on his own.

The six Lamoureux children’s athletic exploits are well documented, including a multi-page feature in Sports Illustrated not too long ago. The stories tell of four brothers and two sisters who spent the seemingly endless North Dakota winters on a frozen backyard pond playing hockey and pushing one another to be better all the time. That sisters Monique and Jocelyn ended up starring in college and on the U.S. Olympic Team is really no surprise after their baptism of fire in the backyard.

“They’re the best ones in our family,” Jacques said, without so much as a hint that he was kidding. “When you have four older brothers who do the same things you do and play the same sports, you can learn a lot of things really quick. If you’re going to play with the boys, you’re not going to get cut any slack. At least that’s the way it was out on the pond behind our house. When we would play it was ‘either keep up or don’t play.’ They were able to keep up.”

Jacques was always able to keep up on the ice as well, even when competing against star brothers Jean-Philippe and Mario, both of whom played college hockey for the renowned program at the University of North Dakota. In that storybook, Jacques would’ve joined them, and the trio would have been successful and happy playing on college rinks just as they were in the frozen backyard as children.

“I’m very fortunate that my older brother had the work ethic that he did and established the reputation that he did early on in junior hockey and in college,” Jacques said. “Everywhere he went he had that reputation for working hard and being a big-time performer. So when I came along, right away they thought I’d be like my brother, so it was easy to fall into those footsteps. We all worked hard, but he created that reputation for our family, and I’m thankful for that.”

But life got in the way of that fairytale too. Jacques’ struggles with depression when he was a teen are well documented. And anyone who knows his story has heard or read of the day he wrote an apologetic note to his parents, drove his car to the top level of a multi-story parking ramp, and walked to the edge, planning to bring a final end to the illness creating such storms in his young mind.

But instead of a tragedy, we have a cautionary tale with a happy ending for the Jacques Lamoureux story. He confided in his parents and admitted he needed help. He got medical care and family care and made the storms subside. After one season of getting his feet wet and showing some potential at Northern Michigan University, Jacques was able to transfer to Air Force, where that potential blossomed into true stardom. He was happy at Northern Michigan, but felt the pull of wanting to do something more.

“I’ve always valued my education and I wanted to play hockey. Those are two things you get if you go anywhere and play college hockey,” he said. “But there’s a third little prong that Air Force offered, that I hadn’t thought much about, but the more I did, the more it intrigued me. It’s something I’m hoping to make a career out of. I’m really excited for graduation, and to get my career started in the Air Force.”

As a sophomore with the Falcons, Jacques burst onto the scene, scoring an amazing 33 goals – one shy of doubling his closest competitor in the team scoring race, who had 17. Most importantly, he became just the second Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist in the program’s history, and helped the Falcons to within an overtime goal of their first-ever Frozen Four appearance.

Jacques ended up leading the Falcons offensively in all three seasons he played for them, and said just as important as his individual success was the fact that he came to a championship team, and left a championship team, as the Falcons won Atlantic Hockey’s playoff title this year.

“We’re leaving it the exact same way or maybe even a little better, moving forward for the future of Air Force hockey,” Jacques said.

In winning the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Jacques proved to be a near-perfect example of the four qualities that are looked for in recipients of the honor – community, classroom, character and competition.

“Jacques Lamoureux stands for everything the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award represents,” Falcons head coach Frank Serratore said. “He is an outstanding student, a tremendous leader and a highly decorated player. I am both proud and happy for Jacques as he is a very deserving and worthy recipient.”

About to complete a degree in global business management, Jacques speaks with as much pride about his work in class and in the greater Colorado Springs community as he does of anything that’s happened on the ice. Each year he is one of the Falcons who helps organize and participate in a walk to benefit juvenile diabetes research. He says it’s just a small way to give back to the community and to the people who have given opportunities to him.

The first of those opportunities came on that backyard rink in North Dakota, where Jacques remembers hearing a lot about the Air Force and seeing the planes from the nearby base all the time. Did he think that one day he’d be a part of our nation’s defense?

“Never,” Jacques admitted. “Until I started getting recruited here, it had never really crossed my mind to pursue it. But once the seed got planted in my mind, it just kept growing and growing.”

And once the storms of life were tamed, and he could focus on being an athlete and an airman, Jacques found that he was a near-perfect fit, not only in Cadet Ice Arena, but in service to our nation as well.

“The way I’ve always been growing up, the Air Force lifestyle just fit my personality,” Jacques said. “I look back and I’m so happy I made this decision because it’s been the best four years of my life.”

For those who have gotten to watch Jacques Lamoureux play hockey, for those who have coached him, for those who have called him a teammate and classmate, and for those who have gotten to see his impact in the community, these four years have been pretty great as well. So sometimes, after the storms pass, one gets a storybook ending after all.