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Sibling connection leading Walpole hockey

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Walpole has begun to flex its muscle as a hockey town. In the past four years, the Walpole boys earned a berth in the Super Eight for the first time in program history (2016-2017) and won the school's first-ever Division I South championship (2019-2020). Meanwhile, the Walpole girls have made it to the Final Four of the Division II state tournament (2018-2019) to go along with a quarterfinals appearance in 2016-2017.

Each season has brought new names and different faces to the ice for Walpole. Through all the turnover, though, there's been a consistent factor: the seemingly constant rise of the next wave of siblings becoming prominent players for the team.

In 2020-2021, four sets of siblings are rostered on Walpole's boys and girls varsity hockey teams: Colin and Kerin Birch, Jon and Kaity Colleran, Franky and Elena Govini and Joe and Lucy Verderber.

Lucy Verderber is coached on the varsity girls team by her father, Joseph Sr., an alum of Walpole High ('88) and holder of the all-time and single season scoring records at the school. Joe Sr. went on to play four years of Division I college hockey at Brown from 1988-1992. Joe Verderber, Jr. helped Walpole to the Division I South championship last March, along with Colin Birch and Franky Govini. Colin and Kerin Birch's older brother, Ryan ('18), was part of Walpole's Super Eight team in 2016-2017. Ryan Birch currently plays lacrosse at Bentley and is a junior.

Having four siblings all play a varsity sport at the same time on the same two teams is pretty special. Despite there not being a postseason in 2020-2021, these four boys and four girls from Walpole are still finding ways to make headlines, simply by gearing up and playing the sport they love.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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