It'd be a gross understatement to say that the US women's hockey team had a good Olympics this year. For the first time in 20 years, Team USA beat Canada in a dramatic shootout that ended a three-hour game. Fans called it "The Miracle On Ice." The US women's team took home a gold medal and made history.
But the lead up to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was almost as epic as the actual Games. Last March, members of the US women's hockey team made the decision to boycott the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship (IIHFWC). The players wanted USA Hockey to address their salary negotiations, which included increased wages and the same benefits and support that their male counterparts receive. They refused to play unless they reached an agreement. Astonishingly, they did, and the team went on to dominate at the Olympics.
What has it been like to come home after your Olympic win?
Meghan Duggan: "It’s great. Obviously we were super excited to get back to the US, and stopped at a bunch of different cities along the way, and have been welcomed with open arms everywhere we go. It's been an awesome opportunity to celebrate with each other, our fans, and our country, and [we're] continuing to promote our sport."
We're coming off a historic year for you guys. Do you feel like your work is done? Or what needs to happen next?
Hilary Knight: "It's been a very exciting year with the support battle we went through in the spring, but now we're just amplifying our voices and continuing to inspire the next generation with what we’ve accomplished thus far. We're continuing to push the boundaries further and make a better world for the next generation that's coming up."
It's been exciting to see how other sports — like US women's soccer — are using you guys as an example for how to fight for change. What has that been like? Do you feel a sense of camaraderie?
Monique Lamoureux: "We're certainly not the first team to do what we’ve done, and we hope that we're not the last. Like the Billy Jean King's, the US women's soccer team in the late '90s, and what they were able to accomplish. Those are teams and athletes that have laid the groundwork for us to do what we're able to do.
"I think others, you'll see other national teams and other female athletes, really pushing for what they deserve. We just hope we're able to lay more groundwork for the future generations, and future athletes, and Olympians — especially female."
Now that the Olympics are over, we don't want your message to fade into the background. How can people keep up with what you're doing?
Lamoureux: "Right now, we're really trying to build off the momentum we’ve created since our win, and really capitalize on the opportunity and exposure we’ve been getting as a team. Hopefully, if individuals on our team get exposure, it benefits us all. Following us consistently is helpful, but we’ve been able to create a bigger platform for us all. Hilary was on SNL the other night, and that created mainstream buzz for all of us. So, hopefully we continue to do more things like that."
Knight: "Not many people are familiar with the fact that there are two professional leagues in North America. Obviously the Olympics are every four years, but we're training everyday. A lot of our young women are competing in those leagues, and there is rivalry between the US and Canada within both of those leagues. So, if people want to continue to watch us play who don’t get to see us in the USA jersey, they can definitely go watch us on those markets."
What do you think male athletes can do to be better allies?
Knight: "I think whenever you can collaborate as a group trying to accomplish something bigger than yourself, it transcends your group specifically. I wouldn’t put it on males or females, I just think collectively — it’s 2018, it's time for equality, whatever that looks like. Collaborating definitely would be the easiest way to accomplish something big."
There are a lot of women athletes speaking up about injustices, whether that's sexual assault and harassment or equal pay. What advice do you have for a young athlete who is struggling to find or use their voice?
Duggan: "We’ve talked about it a lot, but one of the greatest things about sports is that they unite people in a positive way. We've certainly used our team’s energy and momentum with this gold medal victory to come back and just inspire young athletes and young girls, whoever, to be confident and to go after their dreams and keep working hard. Keep at it, and make the changes you want to see.
"Our team — not only the gold medal victory but last spring — has continued to put that message out there and inspire young athletes to keep doing what we’ve been doing."
Follow our new Instagram account in partnership with NBC Sports, @OnHerTurf, for the best from women in sports, on and off the field.