WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn - For some coaches it takes years to get a hockey team to resemble a family. In White Bear Lake they actually are.
“This is my eighth year and it’s been the most fun,” says head coach Jerry Kwapick.
“The varsity and JV teams are family,” says Claudia Verkerke. “The fact that we have legit sisters makes it that much more real.”
There are five sets of sisters on the girls’ varsity and junior varsity teams.
“Yeah we scored a goal. She passed it to me and I scored,’ says Rebecca Sanda.
Junior varsity and varsity share a locker room to add to that atmosphere.
“We have one locker room, so we have one team,” says Kwapick. “So we see each other every day,” says Katie Ertle. “Even though you’re not on the ice with them.”
Even though the sisters come from different families they all have one common theme.
“VERY competitive,” says Bella Koller. “Like who is finishing food first, who is faster on the pond.”
“Losing getting in the car first,” says Sanda.
“We have to call dibs on who showers first,” says Koller.
“At home we have this big white board and we keep track of who practices stick handling minutes,” says Claudia Verkerke
“I have more minutes’” her sister Sophie interjects.
"Yeah sure,” Claudia responds.
While the situation is unprecedented in White Bear Lake, so is their standing with a coach who has seen a lot. This team has had success both on the ice and in the classroom because of a work ethic that’s continually passed down.
“Studying in the books or working on the ice they are just hard, driven, kids,” says Kwapick.
These are kids who will likely always remember this team even beyond the players they are related to.