Hemp Sisters Have Fun
From Andover to Minneapolis (and Minnetonka, too), the Hemp sisters are still as close as ever.
To anyone familiar with the hockey scene in Minnesota, it’s safe to say the high expectations are understood at nearly every level. Some instances are more warranted than others, especially the teams that have a proven penchant for success time and time again.
The University of Minnesota hockey programs are no stranger to those high expectations, especially the women’s program, which has seven national championships and three national runners-up finishes in 24 seasons up until 2023-24.
Those standards, though, don’t preclude the team from having any fun. That couldn’t be demonstrated any better than with the team’s leader, junior captain Peyton Hemp, engaging in a bit of fun with her younger sister and fellow teammate, Josie, on occasion.
“There’s times I’ll walk into the dressing room or the conference room on the road and see them horsing around and wrestling and things like that,” Gophers head coach Brad Frost said. “So I certainly think they have fun.”
On top of Frost’s view of his players’ lighthearted antics, when brought up to the players themselves, the discussion was met with a few laughs.
“I think that’s like a part of our relationship,” Peyton said. “Obviously, there’s so much love there, but we definitely get on each other’s nerves, but it’s all on the love, so it’s super fun.”
It’s just sisterly love, right? Once you are around someone long enough, you can be just a bit more comfortable. No matter if it’s in the locker room, in the hallways around Ridder Arena, or in the team areas of rinks around the WCHA, the pair can be found often wrestling with one another.
While there is no one who is the instigator to all of the friendly bouts, at least some of them can be attributed to the younger sister.
“After practices sometimes, I’ll literally just out of nowhere kind of jump on her,” Josie said. “We’ll literally just start tackling each other, so there’s that. Sometimes in the locker room before practice, we will just randomly, it’s not actually a fight, but we’ll randomly just start wrestling each other, literally just like out of nowhere.”
Andover to Minnetonka to Minneapolis
This pair of sisters from Andover, Minn., being two years apart, have had quite the experience playing together growing up. From being little kids all the way to high school to play hockey together, it ended up being a little weird to the duo when Peyton was at Minnesota and Josie still had two years of high school left. While those high school memories were fleeting at Andover, as Josie transferred to Minnetonka for her final two years of high school, Peyton and Josie reached the ultimate goal while playing together.
In 2020, they helped Andover to a Class 2A state championship with a victory over Edina.
“I think the one that sticks out the most with her and I was in my junior year and [Josie’s] freshman year at Andover when we won the state tournament,” Peyton said. “I think that’s probably like the biggest one. That was just super fun to win that with her and it was super special too, but there were so many moments growing up.”
That success in the state tournament propelled Peyton to be the state’s Ms. Hockey in her senior season in 2021 before joining the Gophers. Josie played the remainder of her two years of high school without her older sister, but with her younger sister, Layla, at Minnetonka.
A junior at Minnetonka this season, Layla is also committed to Minnesota, but she’s a goaltender. She also recently helped backstop the United States to gold at the 2024 U-18 Women’s World Championship.
“I’m sad we don’t all three get to play with each other, but it’s super cool obviously for me being in the middle,” Josie said. “Being able to have Layla and Peyton and then getting to play with the both of them for two years in high school [was really special].”
Three sisters, three roles
Funny enough that the trio each plays their own position, but it was Josie who actually played forward instead of defense until high school. When she was a forward, she was linemates with Isa Goettl, now a teammate on the Gophers. Josie said that her dad helped bring it up once about potentially making the switch in positions. Then, in high school, after getting some shifts on the back end, she realized she really enjoyed playing defense and stuck with it ever since.
Using that experience as a forward, Josie said it has helped her understand her role as a defender. While she said she views herself more as an offensive defender, and Frost also says she has good offensive instincts, she values the experience of knowing how to play up front to better understand her own responsibilities on the ice on defense.
Josie is looking to redshirt the 2023-24 season and compete for a spot in the Gophers’ defensive corps next season, and through a large part of a season of practices in her first year with the team, she said she’s learned the most about speed and size at this level of competition.
“The transition [from high school] was definitely big, with the speed,” Josie said. “Even though I haven’t gotten to play in a game, I definitely think I’ve learned so much in practice because of adjusting to the speed, as I would say, speed is the biggest thing for me.”
Going against older sister Peyton in practice has to be a tough assignment for anyone, considering the complete game she produces for the Gophers every night. Both Frost and Peyton said that she brings a consistency to the game that coaches and teammates alike really appreciate. From the penalty kill to the power play, her competitiveness and consistency have been making an impact.
That also helps Peyton’s role as the team captain, to set an example for the rest of her teammates to look to in the long grind of the season.
With the competitive angle she helps represent on the team now, to the little competitions that both Peyton and Josie had with together with older sister Catalina in their garage as kids, Josie and Peyton are as close as can be.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s just great to have, like obviously you’re friends with everybody on the team, like you love your teammates and stuff, but it’s such a blessing to have that one person that can just be your go-to,” Peyton said. “[Someone] that knows you truly, they literally grew up with you, so they pretty much know everything about you.”