Father's Day: Area athletic figures discuss the impact their fathers made on their lives
Keeghan Hurley and his father, Don
Keeghan Hurley and his father, Don
The final run Perham senior Keeghan Hurley and his dad, Don, had together was when Keeghan was in eighth grade.
Some torn cartilage in his knee hasn’t stopped Don from being with Keeghan for every run after. At every mile on Keeghan’s 12- or 16-mile runs, Don is there to hand him a water bottle and a cheer.
“He’s not running with me, but he’s out on every single run with me,” Keeghan said. “He’s always there for me.”
Don, who won Minnesota Class 2A cross country titles in 1976 and 1977 with Cretin-Derham Hall and went on to run at the University of Minnesota, isn’t sure he would be able to keep up with Keeghan these days anyway.
“Keeghan is so fast I’d need to be 27 years old to stay with him,” Don said.
Keeghan finished his high school career with nearly 40 Minnesota section and state medals between swimming, cross country and track. He was part of a Fergus Falls state championship swim team as a freshman and two Perham cross country state and national championship teams as a junior and senior. He won individual state titles in cross country and in the 3,200-meter run in track as a senior.
“I’ve been blessed with lots of tears of joy,” Don said. “Silently, you hope someday your kids might be able to enjoy the success that you’ve experienced, but you never voice that or expect that. You accept what they do, but the tears of joy usually come from knowing exactly the joy they’re feeling of the victory.”
Keeghan’s cross country title made he and Don the only father-son duo in Minnesota to win cross country titles.
Keeghan is already at Southern Utah University training to get used to running in the higher altitude for college next season.
“I always wanted to be like my father because I always knew I wanted to run and be half as good as he was,” Keeghan said. “If I can be half the man my dad is, I’ll be a very successful person.”
– Chris Murphy
Kate Smith and her father, Kris
Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Detroit Lakes sophomore Kate Smith has grown up with golf. She’s literally been surrounded by it.
“We live at Ironman Golf Course, which I’ve owned for 14 years, so she’s lived around golf her entire life” Kate’s dad, Kris, said.
Kate just won her third straight Minnesota Class 2A individual state golf championship, while leading the Detroit Lakes girls golf team to its third straight state team title. She’s just the fifth golfer in Minnesota history to win three state titles. With two years left at Detroit Lakes, she has the chance to become the second to win four and the first to win five.
“She seems to be very intuitive with course management,” Kris said. “She’s gotten better playing the game, but she’s also gotten better managing her game. She just seems to be really smart about her decision-making on the golf course.”
Hard to imagine her golfing career didn’t get off on the right foot. One of Kris’ first memories of Kate on the golf course is when she tripped over a rock and broke her leg at the age of 2.
Since then it’s been a lot of pretty good memories.
“If she wants to take up the violin that’s cool, if she wants to be a painter that’s cool, but to share a passion with her is really cool,” Kris said.
Kris is an award-winning golf teacher and has been a PGA member for nearly three decades.
He was also the man to take Kate to her first golf tournament at the age of 8. If it weren’t for that first tournament, Kate may not be a three-time state champion.
“I didn’t like golf until that first tournament,” Kate said. “Then I realized it’s competitive and I’m not too bad at it. It was kind of fun, too. Before that there was so many clinics that I thought were too tiring, but then I saw the competitive side to it and I thought it was more for me.”
– Chris Murphy
Nick Card and his father, Kyle
There were several special father-son moments shared between Fargo Oak Grove head boys basketball coach Kyle Card and his son, Nick, this year, but none rivaled the one experienced March 8.
The day was highlighted by the Grovers defeating Rugby 68-58 in overtime to win the North Dakota Class B state championship.
“I really don’t think it gets any better than that,” Nick said of the championship. “Just to go out on top my senior year and with my dad as my coach was special.”
“It was the perfect way to end his high school basketball career and then he topped it off with a fifth-place finish at the state golf tournament,” Kyle added. “Nick had a great senior year. I was lucky to be coaching him and be part of it. All my kids had great years with their sports.”
Kyle and his wife, Charlene, have four children: Nick (18 years old), Emily (15), Kaleb (13) and Cody (10).
“My wife and I make sure one of us is at every kid’s sporting events,” Kyle said. “That is important because it goes so fast. I have coached them all in soccer, baseball, football and basketball.”
Like most of the days during the sports season, today the Cards will enjoy the holiday honoring Kyle together.
“Father’s Day is about spending time with the family and being around for the kids,” Kyle said. “That’s the way I grew up. My dad was that way.”
Nick graduated last month and is attending Concordia, where he’ll play football this fall. Though he’ll no longer have his father as his coach, Nick said he’s learned a lot from playing for his dad.
“He has coached me in pretty much every sport,” Nick said. “He has taught me how to play the game the right way and play for the team.”
– Tom Mix
Jill DeVries and her father, Edward
Valley City, N.D.
Edward “Butch” DeVries worked in construction for more than 40 years with around 30 of those spent as a contractor.
“He taught all of us to be hard workers,” said Jill DeVries, his daughter, who is the head women’s basketball coach at Valley City State. “He is a
blue-collar guy. He taught us how to do it right the first time and he taught us that family was important.”
A blue-collar guy, who was always there for his daughter. Jill, the oldest of three children, was a multi-sport athlete at Glyndon-Felton High School and went on to star for the North Dakota State women’s basketball team.
That’s why Father’s Day is special for Jill.
“I don’t think he missed a high school game I ever played in and I don’t think he ever missed a home college basketball game,” said Jill, who played on NDSU’s 1991 NCAA Division II national title team.
Butch remembers Jill having a knack for sports at an early age, playing volleyball, basketball, track and softball during her high school years.
“She had the athletic ability and the natural understanding of the games that you just can’t coach,” said Butch, who played football, basketball and competed in track when he was in high school at Herman, Minn.
While Jill took last year off from coaching (she was the head coach at VCSU the 14 seasons prior), Butch has been a regular at her games in Valley City.
“He travels a lot of miles,” Jill said of her dad, who is now retired. “He watches them online when we are out of town.”
For Butch, a Vietnam veteran, today is about family.
“Father’s Day to me is getting together with the family and relaxing,” Butch said.
– Eric Peterson
Paige McCullough and her father, Greg
Greg McCullough was a first-team all-North Central Conference golfer in the 1980s for the University of North Dakota. Most people around here know him better as the head professional at Edgewood Golf Course for the past 14 years.
Most people know his daughter, Paige McCullough, as a former standout soccer player at Fargo Davies, who will be entering her sophomore year playing at Concordia. In all those years growing up, golf rarely entered the conversation.
But college athletics is a father-daughter bond that is hard to beat.
“I think it’s something special for us to share,” Paige said.
They’re also sharing something else these days: The clubhouse at Edgewood. Paige works 30 to 40 hours a week for her dad. In the world of a golf pro, where the family sitting down at the dinner table is non-existent, that doubles as rare family time in the summer.
“It’s been really cool to spend time with her,” Greg said. “In the summer it’s usually such a hit-and-miss thing.”
Paige added: “You mostly had to depend on the rest of the year to see him.”
Greg said having his two daughters follow in his golfing footsteps was never really a subject of conversation. He said Paige’s friends played other sports like soccer and basketball and that’s the route she took.
That’s all good because it led her to college athletics, he said.
“I’m a firm believer in college athletics,” he said. “I don’t care where it is or what sport, playing on that team is huge. The kids have to be way more structured, and plus, it provides instant friends.”
Paige played in 16 of 19 matches last year getting one goal and two assists.
“I was unsure going in but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.
– Jeff Kolpack