A unique photo of the Coon Rapids girls’ hockey team is making the rounds on Twitter, one showing teammates shoulder to shoulder on the blue line, helmets off and awaiting the national anthem.
The photo is black and white, save three siblings in color: Britni, Brandi and Bryna DelCastillo, the Cardinals’ sisterhood within a sisterhood.
“My aunt actually edited that photo; I thought it was really cool,” said Britni, a senior forward. “At first I was worried people would think we were diminishing the team in some way. But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re all a family on my team. But it’s a special photo because this will be the last year my sisters and I will all be on the same team.”
There is no shortage of DelCastillo skaters in the pipeline, however. Brandi, a sophomore, and Bryna, a ninth-grader, are followed by sisters Brook (fifth grade), Brylei (second) and Bradi (kindergarten next fall). Their father, Doc, played hockey at Hill-Murray and St. Cloud State. He moved the family from Alexandria to the Twin Cities in 2012 to coach the Hamline University men’s hockey team.
Britni DelCastillo spoke to Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about the ties that bind her sisters and the approaching high school hockey playoffs.
Q: How was the transition to Coon Rapids coming in as a junior? That’s a tough time to switch schools.
A: It was really difficult. I was actually really scared. I hadn’t been in a fall sport since eighth grade but my sister Bryna wanted me to join cross-country with her, so I did. That helped me make friends right away. And two or three of the girls were on the hockey team, so that got me excited.
Q: How do you benefit from having your sisters on the team?
A: It helps to have them on the team because they are honest with you as far as what you did well and what you need to improve on. Some people sugarcoat it but with your siblings you know you’re getting an honest opinion.
Q: In what ways do you carry out your role as the oldest sibling?
A: I take them to practice a lot. [Sunday] I took two of my sisters to their youth hockey practices. And I give them advice on and off the ice, especially with my little sisters because they are still learning. Off the ice I try to be the responsible one.
Q: How has moving around during your life strengthened your bond with your sisters?
A: It’s really strengthened our bond. Every place we go to we’re pretty much all we have at first, and it’s nice to have that extra support. The move to Coon Rapids really helped because we’re all on the same team. We haven’t fought as much.
Q: The playoffs are coming up and while your record isn’t too strong, your coach loves the way this team competes. Does that give you some optimism about your chances?
A: Yes, it does. Our whole team works so hard and even though our record didn’t turn out how we wanted it so far, we know we can compete in the playoffs. We’ll be the underdogs but we compete every night. We just don’t score as much as we should. But our intensity level is really high.
David La Vaque