Rooney, Morin Return for Welcome Home Celebration
The two UMD Bulldogs were part of the gold medal U.S. women's hockey team.
DULUTH — It was a packed house at the Sports Garden Thursday night as two Bulldogs returned home with some hardware around their neck.
For the first time since winning the gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Maddie Rooney and Sidney Morin came back to Duluth for a “Welcome Home Celebration” with their fans who cheered them on from the other side of the world.
“That’s what carried us over there in [South] Korea. Just to see all the support from back home and around the world was just so awesome to see. And that’s how people are supporting the game women’s hockey, too,” Rooney said.
“I think it’s incredible the amount of support our team has gotten, especially Maddie and I from the city of Duluth which has been so great,” said Morin.
Rooney and Morin, along with Team USA, have been on a nation–wide press tour, making stops from The Ellen Show to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, meeting celebrities and becoming celebrities along the way.
“They were everything that I thought they would be, just seeing them on TV. It was just a surreal moment to meet those people,” Rooney said.
“I don’t think we slept very much for two weeks. It was amazing to be able to share our medals with the country and go to various events. To be on that stage and realized how many people watched our game was ridiculous,” said Morin.
Fans of all ages go to hear Rooney and Morin talk about their experience, going from collegiate hockey to international play. And after, they got a chance to get autographs and meet the girls they saw on TV.
“I thought it was really cool because I know that they are from here. I thought it was cool that we could meet them because they are so cool,” hockey fan Bailey Coole said.
And their gold medal victory definitely became a spark for other young girls who want to join their local hockey team.
“It felt amazing that I could be that too if I wanted,” hockey fan Amelia Saamanen said.
“As a little girl growing up in Minnesota, there’s a reality to your dreams. If you work hard and you stick with it and you emulate your life after some of these players, there’s a real chance,” said UMD women’s hockey coach Maura Crowell.
“I’ve had parents come up to me and say “your team in the reason my girl is in hockey now” and it’s just so cool to hear that. That’s who we do it for, to inspire the younger generations and grow the game and move the development along in general. I think we set a good base for it in the next coming years here,” said Rooney.
And who knows? Maybe the next Olympic gold medalist was sitting there, listening to Rooney and Morin.