1/16/2020 4:40:00 PM SISTER ACT: The Devries sisters lead the charge for CL hockey
New fans attending the Wildcats girls hockey game against SFNB on Tuesday, January 7 at Chisago Lakes Arena may have thought they were hearing things when public address announcer Suzanne Gillespie announced the starting lineup and kept repeating the name “Devries”. But they weren’t hearing things – the four Devries sisters – senior Claire, junior Grace, freshman Laine and seventh-grader Nora – were all in the starting lineup, along with their freshman cousin Malia Mckinnon and senior goalie Anna Kittleson. And the team was led onto the ice at the beginning of the first period by yet another Devries sister, six-year-old Rose – who is just a bit too young to play for the Wildcats.
The Devries sisters are likely the first set of four siblings to play together on the varsity of a girls’ high school hockey team in the State of Minnesota. In boys’ hockey, the Brainerd Lumberjacks had the five Andres brothers on the same team during the 2016-2017 season, including a set of triplets.
Does Claire, the oldest, feel any pressure? She said “The only pressure for me is to try to be a good example for my sisters, to be a person they can look up to who works hard and has a good attitude all the time. But I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of pressure, because I have been doing it my whole life.” Claire drives her sisters to school every day in Jeremy the Jeep and picks up Mckinnon along the way.
Nora was asked if the Devries house got a bit crowded, considering the competitive personalities. “Yes’” she said. “We fight over the typical things girls fight over – clothes, shoes.” In fact, the morning of the game they were fighting over some turtlenecks.
Rose was asked if she was excited about carrying the flag onto the ice before that night’s game and she said “Yes!” with a big grin on her face. She was asked which of her sisters she looked up to and she said, “All of them.” Rose is a hockey player, as well, skating in the Chisago Lakes Youth Hockey Association. She just likes being on the ice and scoring goals.
Malia was asked if she feels like another sister rather than just a cousin. “Yeah, I feel like I’m always with them all the time, at school and hockey. And we play tennis and golf together. So, we’re pretty much together all year round. Our families always joke about buying a big house together and living together as one big unit.” The Mckinnon family has a hockey rink in the backyard. Malia said, “My dad just bought these huge lights and I feel like we’re the Griswold family in Christmas Vacation, lighting up the whole neighborhood.” Does it ever get a little too competitive in the backyard? Mckinnon said “Sometimes things get a little intense and we get a little angry, but then we go inside, and everything is good.”
Grace is probably the most competitive of the bunch. She said “I’m definitely competitive. I like to win against my sisters.” Grace spent some time at the USA Hockey Select 15 camp last spring. She said “It’s a big deal. It was fun to be competing at that level and representing my school.”
Laine and Grace are both in the top five on the team in penalty minutes. Laine said, “I try to play aggressive and sometimes that ends up being not so good for the team.”
Claire talked about the impact of the Devries and Mckinnon families in the community. She said “I think we’re a big part of the chemistry of this team. And we go around town and we’re such a big family. When people hear Devries and Mckinnon, they think of hockey. In a way, we have connections with everyone in the community because we’re so small.”
Grace was asked whose idea it was to have all five players start and have Rose bring out the flag. She said “Probably my mom’s. Every game, she’s always up in the stands with her camera and she says after every game that she wishes that we had all started so she could get a picture of us all. I think that’s definitely a big part of it, along with our coach. I’m sure it’s fun for everyone to see a whole family starting.
Claire will be attending Williams College in Massachusetts after she graduates this spring and was concerned about missing out on seeing her sisters play. But her mom pointed out that once she graduates and heads back to Minnesota, Nora will still only be a junior and Rose will be 13, with years of high school hockey ahead of her.
Chisago Lake High School girls’ hockey head coach Dave Burgen said of the Devries players and McKinnon “They’re all good players, but more importantly they’re all good people. They’re great teammates. The families are very well known in town and heavily involved in hockey, so they are also known outside of town. They lead by example and their work ethic is rock solid. I get calls from college recruiters quite a bit and they don’t want to know how players are on the ice. They want to know how they are in the locker room, how are they in school. These girls are great students and good people and I think that’s really the biggest piece that is the most important.”
Proud parents of the Devries sisters are Jason and Nicole. And proud parents of Mckinnon and her three brothers are Corey and Andrea Mckinnon. Corey is the former boys’ hockey head coach at Chisago Lakes High School.