Junior water polo co-captain Devan Kennifer started swimming at age three when her older sister Sarah pushed her into the pool—or so she claims.
“I contend that my sister pushed me off a three-meter diving board; she holds that it was totally my choice,” Kennifer recalls.
Her sister denies the allegations.
“I do not remember doing that,” Sarah Kennifer says. “We actually have some family videos of her going up there and jumping on her own.”
But regardless of how she started, it quickly became apparent that the water was where Kennifer belonged. She began her aquatic career as a swimmer before following her older sisters into water polo in the seventh grade.
“We all swam when we were younger,” Kennifer says of her and her sisters. “And after chasing the black line for so long, it was so much more exciting with a ball and a game involved.”
Water polo runs in the Kennifer bloodline—even if it is a first-generation phenomenon. Although neither parent played the sport, all three Kennifer daughters ended up playing collegiate water polo. Sarah ’02 also played for the Crimson, Katherine for Notre Dame until graduating in 2005, and now Devan for Harvard.
“We weren’t that family that was totally directed towards water polo,” Kennifer says. “We don’t have water polo stickers on all of our cars or anything, but it was really cool that we could play together on club teams and stuff. I remember a couple years ago my sister [Sarah] was playing with some club, and I got to hop in and play, which was great.”
The memory of the sister act sticks out for Sarah as well.
“We were on the same team, which was good, because I would never want to play against Devan,” Sarah recalls. “It was co-ed, and Devan was scoring and stealing it from guys that were probably twice her size and had five times the ego.”
Kennifer’s aggression in the water has led her to success with the Crimson as well. As of April 10—the last time team statistics were updated—she was leading the team on the scoreboard with 61 goals. Last year she also had a team-best 67 scores on the season, earning her a spot on the All-Northern Division first team and the Eastern Championship All-Tournament second team.
This year, Kennifer has helped lead the team to a 16-13 overall record and 3-4 conference mark while facing a schedule that has set Harvard against several top-ranked teams.
“Our team’s really learned to battle against schools that no one thought we could even be in there with,” Kennifer says.
The team hopes these big games will give the team an edge as they travel Bloomington, Indiana, for the Eastern Championships on April 29, and after that to the NCAA Championships—if it qualifies.
Her success has been closely tracked by her family, especially her sisters, who make it a point to interrogate her after her games.
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