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All in the Family

11/09/2013, 8:15am CST
By Let's Play Hockey - Amy Alt

The DelCastillo family of Coon Rapids includes a college hockey head coach, a hockey supermom and six hockey-playing daughters.

By Amy Ault
Let's Play Hockey

Two parents, the father a hockey dad and head college hockey coach, the mother a hockey supermom.  Seven daughters ages 5-23, six whom play on hockey teams in Coon Rapids.  This is the story of Team DelCastillo.

Team DelCastillo is led by hockey dad and Hamline men's hockey team head coach Doc DelCastillo, and hockey mom Sue, who also runs a day care (and who Doc deems as, "The warrior of this whole hockey family. I found the first round draft pick when I married Sue.")

The players on Team DelCastillo begin with oldest daughter Kristen, the only non-hockey playing DelCastillo who recently graduated from Winona State and is now a teacher in Brainerd. Britni is a senior forward at Coon Rapids who also runs cross country and track.  She is the oldest living at home and helps out with getting the younger girls to practice. Brandi is a sophomore who plays forward/defense, runs cross country and plays lacrosse. Bryna is a freshman forward who also runs cross country and track. Brook, is a 10UA player, Brylei a 10UB player and Bradi, the youngest, is at the mite level.

When asked what it is like to have sisters that share the passion of hockey, they say, "It is fun to be able to talk about the game with someone who understands it, and we like to watch games on TV together (but we have different favorite teams.)"

They talk about how it is great it is to have their best friends in the locker room and on the ice, and to be able to praise and criticize each other and know they are getting an honest opinion.

"I like being able to talk about my "sick dangles" with my sisters," Bryna said.

"There are not too many dull moments in our living room," Doc said of the family's interactions.

The girls cheer each other on in the stands, holding handmade signs and wearing their warm-ups.

"The younger ones are so excited to go to the high school games, stating, 'That's my sister!' as they see the oldest girls play in the game," Sue said. "The girls love to watch where each other are at, giving each other encouragement, saying, 'Good job, you made a great play.'"

They each have their own style and pride in being sisters who share a love for hockey. Seven-year-old Brylei is excited because this year she will share the same jersey number (14) with older sister Britni.

Four of the six sisters have been coached by Jess Christopherson, the coach of the Coon Rapids High School girls' varsity team. She also coached Brylei's mite team last year.

"They are an incredible family and they have been a great contribution to our program," Christopherson said. "With Doc having an impressive coaching resume (he also played junior and college hockey) and Sue being college athlete as well (All American track athlete at the University of Nebraska Omaha), the girls all bring a great perspective to the table. The girls have grown up with the game their entire lives, and you can see it in how they play. They work hard, they are coachable and they understand what it takes to compete at this level." The Coon Rapids team calls the DelCastillo girls "The Dels" and the three high school girls are all "very social and all three-sport athletes."

"They are all very different players but there are definitely common threads," Christopherson said of the playing styles of the sisters. "Britni does it all; she's crafty and easily one of the hardest working kids we have. She is a perfectionist and it shows in her preperation. Brandi has a fluid stride and is strong and shoots the puck well, and can play forward or defense for us.  Bryna is the sparkplug; she is as feisty as it gets and is really learning to put herself in position to finish in front of the net. She's the kind of player that makes things happen and creates her own opportunities.  All three of them put a lot of pressure on themselves and expect success; they don't get complacent. More importantly, they always put the team first.

"Our program as a whole is very involved with the youth teams and the Dels are certainly a huge part of that," Christopherson added.

The girls offer a strong contribution to the dynamic of the school as well, and according to Christopherson, are always the first to offer encouragement to others. "No selfishness, no entitlement and a basic recipe of hard work and commitment make this family special," she said.

With the amount of time the family spends at the rink, it's rare for the DelCastillos to all be at one place at one time. But the summer provides the family a chance to come together in one location. Not surprisingly, it's at a hockey camp. Specifically, Minnesota Hockey Camps in Nisswa. The family has moved several times with Doc's coaching career and this camp feels like home as it has been a constant through all of the transitions. Doc started working at the camp when he was 15 and now has his daughters spend time there.

With hockey season now in full swing, family time together is again in short supply.

"Before hockey season, we have as many sit-down meals as we can together because once the season starts, sometimes a Sunday morning hot breakfast is the only time that happens," Sue said.

Britni, the oldest hockey-playing daughter of Team DelCastillo, sums up the way the family feels about hockey best with a painting on her wall that says, "Hockey is where we live. Live is just a place where we spend time between games."

The DelCastillos would like to "thank the amazing community of hockey parent/players/coaches in the Coon Rapids Hockey Association in welcoming us with open arms, and going above and beyond to help us out. They have truly been a godsend to our family."

With six hockey-playing daughters, a college hockey coach dad and a hockey supermom, Team DelCastillo is a hockey family, through and through.

Tag(s): Coon Rapids