By Monique Lamoureux, Two-Time Olympic Ice Hockey Silver Medalist | April 04, 2016, 6:29 p.m. (ET)


My teammates are some of the most competitive people I know. We have a common bond of always trying to better ourselves as athletes, hockey players and people. The same competitive fire transcends from the ice to a game of Bananagrams, too.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Bananagrams, it’s kind of like Scrabble, but without a board, allowing for more freedom to spell and get creative. Over the past year, the games have become quite competitive to the point where there can be some sour feelings over losses. So what did our team manager do? She made an obnoxious, yet awesome, Bananagrams trophy.

We had teams of two battle it out for the title. Now, I will fully admit that my spelling creativity is subpar. My teammate and newcomer to the national team, Nicole Hensley, and I made it to the semifinals, surpassing our expectations, but only to fall to the eventual champions.

The championship round was played during dinner on Saturday. The match did not start without both teams being announced by myself, rules being laid out by the commissioner Megan Bozek, and spell checkers placed around the table to make sure real words were being used. Haley Skarupa and Emily Phalzer were the heavy favorites, but ultimately fell to Kelli Stack and Shelly Picard.

It’s quite funny how even the smallest of games somehow turns into a competition. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect anything less from this group of women. We have this healthy competition among us, no matter what it is. It can be on or off the ice; if you can keep score and there can be a winner and a loser, it will get serious.

What’s inspiring and refreshing about this group though is that we do it with smiles on our faces and we are having fun. For example, in practice, we keep score between defense and forwards in a particular drill. Whoever loses has to skate a little extra, deliver Gatorade after practice or do log rolls. Turning this drill into a game turns up the pressure. You get the best out of every player, and it’s fun. Of course, no one wants to be on the losing side, but we always come away knowing we have pushed ourselves and our teammates to be better. We don’t shy away from the pressure, and I think we desire it.

This team has a limitless ceiling of potential and we don’t set limits on what we can accomplish.  It’s these situations that translate onto the ice. Even the high-pressure moments in Bananagrams require one to perform under pressure. Like I said, we desire the high-pressure moments, so when we can, we will make them ourselves, even if it comes from putting together words from a board game.