GRAND RAPIDS — In the past two seasons, the Reed sisters have contributed greatly to the success of the Grand Rapids/Greenway (GRG) Lightning girls hockey team.
Senior Kaisa has been an anchor on the blue line for GRG while younger sister Kalle – a sophomore – is in her second season of centering the second line for the Lightning. GRG head coach Brad Hyduke said the sisters are key components on the team this season.
The sisters grew up in an athletic family where father Rian, a former Grand Rapids High School hockey star, played hockey at St. Cloud State. Meanwhile, mother Leslie was a star athlete at Greenway High School and has been head coach of the Itasca Community College volleyball team for a number of years now.
“There is no surprise that they come from generational athletes with regard to hockey,” said Hyduke. “Their dad had a chance to play for Herb Brooks at St. Cloud State. He also was able to be involved in the youth program and help coach his daughters too. I think you see that reflected in their passion for hockey, their skill level and the way they think the game too.”
Added Kaisa, “As soon as I could walk I was in the gym playing volleyball and when I was 5 years old I started to skate, and the same with my sister. Sports are a huge thing in our family.”
Kaisa said wasn’t able to play with younger sister Kalle in youth hockey because of the two-year age difference between the sisters. However, she said it has been great playing with her sister the past two seasons.
“It is a lot more fun because you feel like you are not as nervous when you are on the ice with your sister,” Kaisa said. “You just play better with someone that you know really well. We know each other really well and that helps a lot. Not many get a chance to play a sport with your sibling and I am definitely grateful that we have gotten to do something like that.”
Said Kalle about playing with her older sister, “It’s really fun; I never really got to play with Kaisa until last year so it is exciting and fun. I have always looked up to her. If I am having a bad day at practice she will tell me I am fine and that I will get it back. A lot of people on the team don’t get that advice so it’s different and I like it.”
Kalle said the sisters’ parents have been extremely instrumental in their athletic lives.
“They come to every game that I have played. Even if we are at different places there is always a parent there,” Kalle said. “They always encourage us and they take me to my summer training sessions and everything.”
Hyduke said Kaisa logs plenty of minutes on the blue line for the Lightning, being on top of the power play in her third full year playing on the varsity.
“Kaisa has matured both as a player and as a person so you see her comfort level out there, her confidence,” said Hyduke. “We need that from her back there being that she is a key player for us. She is a girl who actually was a forward for much of her life but she has grown like a weed and knowing the needs we have in our program and we saw what her skill set was, it is a good fit.
“That athleticism you see from her in volleyball and she is able to use her height as an advantage as a defenseman in hockey and we are excited of where she has gotten to.”
Kaisa said she started as a defenseman in the ninth grade because she was starting to grow and the Lightning needed defenseman.
“Switching to defense, it definitely was a little bit of an adjustment but I have gotten very comfortable in the position,” Kaisa explained. “I feel like I am better off playing defense because I am such a tall skater.”
Hyduke said that even though Kaisa doesn’t wear a letter on her jersey, he said she serves as a good leader for the younger players.
“Kaisa’s personality is one that is kind of infectious; she’s a kid that is excited to be at the rink and her work ethic has gotten to a place where you can point at her and say that’s how a defenseman needs to operate.”
Hyduke said Kalle also displays a work ethic that is shown by her skills on the rink.
“Kalle just doesn’t show up to practice and work hard, I mean the time she puts into the game, in particular things like stickhandling, watching videos and games. She is a person there learning while she prepares and you can see that in conversations with her and the way she plays with intelligence on the ice,” the coach explained. “She is already in double digit points for us and we are just going to continue to see her flourish because of the time, energy, effort and care that she puts in, and the passion she has for just hockey in general.”
Kaisa said the obvious goal for the team is to make it to state in her senior season.
“I would like to see the team improve in all the things we need to improve in, work together as a team and just have fun,” Kaisa said. “As a team to get to state, we need to work harder, watch more game film, just the fundamental things, and just work our hardest.”
Added Kalle, “Our goal is to produce and become better and better, especially us younger players because we definitely want to make it to the state tournament and I know we can.”
Hyduke said the sisters have different personalities and play different positions, but at the same time they are very close as sisters.
“That closeness is infectious and it is something to see an older player mentoring a younger player,” he said. “I have had other situations where older sisters were kind of tyrants with their younger sisters and that’s not the case here. Around the rink and on the ice they are like best friends so it’s fun for us to be around that and seeing that strong sister bond that they have.”
Kaisa said she will attend ICC next season to play volleyball for mother Leslie. Meanwhile, Kalle said she will continue to hone her skills with the idea of playing college hockey.
“My dream is to play college hockey,” Kalle, who is fourth academically in her class at Greenway, said. “I focus on my school a lot and I do a lot of offseason work, training with other trainers to get stronger and get me ready to play at that level.”