GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Verkaik sisters didn't begin playing basketball until 2003. Now, they're all playing together on the Calvin College basketball team, currently ranked third in the nation.
"We were all home schooled at the same time," Carissa Verkaik said. "Our dad was like our P-E teacher and wanted to put us in a three-on-three tournament."
"He was like, hey, do you guys want to try basketball? And we all decided that we would love to try it," Breanna Verkaik told 24 Hour News 8.
And Kally Verkaik added, "I was in like, the fourth grade, I think. And we just did it and did it with another cousin and we just loved it."
That's how it all started for the sisters who, until this season, had never had a chance to play together. They individually describe the opportunity to be on the same team as a "blessing," and Carissa said, "It's a dream that we've all had for a long time."
#3 Calvin College hosts Trine, in the opening round of the MIAA tournament Wednesday night
The 6-foot-2 senior center on Tuesday was named Academic All-American of the Year.
Her 5-foot-10 sister Kally, a freshman guard, said it was a "dream come true. I've always wanted to play with both of my sisters. So it's finally here and I just want to savor the year and really make the most of it."
"I've played with each of them individually, like in high school, but for all of us to be on the same team is just fun," said Breanna, a 5-foot-11 sophomore guard. "To have two of my best friends out there on the court with me is just amazing."
After that introduction to basketball 10 years ago, their father Mike -- a math teacher at Holland Christian -- coached all three girls at different times both in and out of school.
He said, "It's hard to really describe, it really it is. They've been on the floor a couple of times together and just to see how they have grown to love each and to enjoy each other's company, it's just wonderful."
Mike also coached all three in track at Holland Christian, and they all run track for Calvin -- just as he did 30 years ago.
Their mother Dawn, who is also a Calvin alumnus, makes this particular season a family affair.
"We have a huge family support," Carissa said. "We have grandmas, grandpa, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends. So it's really been a blessing and we're enjoying every minute of it."
But they will all will say the one person that makes this family complete is the girls biggest fan - their younger brother Chad.
A special needs 8th grader at Holland Christian, doctors have been unable to specifically diagnose the 14-year-old, but has clearly inspired his sisters.
"He has his challenges," mom Dawn said, "but he has always loved and adored his sisters, and they have always loved and adored him."
"He's not able to play sports at the level that we are, so just doing our part for him because he loves watching us really gives you the drive to do it," said Kally.
Just as they inspire him.
"I like to watch them play and shoot baskets," Chad said.
"It's just fun to have him there. He always has an encouraging word after every game," said big sister Carissa.
Dad Mike sees how their success is good for all his kids. "I think they really appreciate the skills that they have and the abilities that they have, because of him. They also see the joy that he gives our family and that he gives others."
This is the only season the three will play together and the family is trying to savor what's left of it.
"We just wish we could slow down time and enjoy it," mom Dawn said, "because we know it's gonna go by fast."
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Police say snow is making roads "treacherous" and are urging people to stay home if possible.