Anyone familiar with University of Alaska Anchorage athletics, specifically both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, has surely heard the name Devine. Built up from past success, senior forward Alysha Devine is joined by her brother senior forward/center Connor Devine to both finish off their final season of eligibility.
Both from Wasilla High School, Alysha immediately came to UAA upon graduation in 2013, but Connor first traveled down to South Dakota. There, he competed three seasons and redshirted one season of Division I basketball at South Dakota State from 2012 to 2016, until returning to Alaska to attend UAA for a second degree and to finish up his final season of basketball.
Connor and Alysha’s father played basketball in college and with that came a very young adaptation and interest in basketball for both the Devines — Alysha even began playing in kindergarten. Although basketball is her main interest, being an incredible athlete comes with significant training, so Alysha participated in cross-country and track in high school to stay in shape. Their father also had a role in Connor’s basketball career.
“My dad instilled in me a love for the game from the time I was very young,” Connor said.
Since Connor spent much of his early childhood in Barrow, Alaska where a majority of kids only played basketball, and he decided to stick to the trend.
Their separation happened when Connor left for several years to play ball and work on his degree in South Dakota. Alysha took a different route. After she visited schools in the lower 48, none of them clicked.
“Coach [Ryan] McCarthy told me that I would really be able to have an impact on [young] girls all over Alaska and represent this state, which is very uncommon for a Division II women’s basketball program,” Alysha said.
Alysha chose to stay at UAA to remain close to her family, including the eight kids in her family, who provide an immense support system. This just so happened to be the turning point for Connor. To complete his final season of college basketball, he returned to UAA, joined by his wife and son.
It’s an uncommon event to have two stand-out siblings athletes at the same school, which UAA is fortunate enough to have, but on a personal level, it’s something that both Connor and Alysha have benefited from greatly.
“Basketball is a way that Connor and I can relate…I feel blessed to have him and his family around for my last year,” Alysha said, “I’ve really enjoyed getting to watch him play and see all of the fans that have been watching me all these years now see my big brother play.”
Not only do they get to experience their final season together, but this is the first college season that Connor is able to watch Alysha play live.
Of all the years spent training and competing, every athlete knows that certain memories about the sport will just stick for the rest of their lives. For Connor, one of his fondest memories was the NCAA Division I tournament his previous team qualified to play for in Spokane, WA.
“It was always my dream to play in that tournament, so it was an awesome experience to be able to do that,” Connor said.
Alysha was able to experience the same reality last year when the UAA’s women’s basketball team qualified for the NCAA Basketball Championships, traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana for the final game against Lubbock Christian. In a head-to-head game, UAA came out short five points, but it was still a memorable experience for Alysha.
“All the support from our fans was just incredible and humbling,” Alysha said.
A turning point for all athletes is the inevitable end to their collegiate career; all athletes know it’s going to happen and realize that after it will completely change a huge part of their lives. For the Devines, they have their futures planned and big ideas ahead.
Connor, having already started the roots of his family with his wife and son, plans to remain permanently living in the Anchorage or MatSu Valley areas.
“My wife and I both love Alaska and are proud to call this state our home,” Connor said. After completing his degree, he aspires to find a future in finance.
Similar to her brother, Alysha would also like to end up living in Alaska, with a few experiences along the way.
“[Possibly] leaving Alaska for a few years to get my master’s somewhere,” or “traveling as much as possible before real life starts,” Alysha said, but ultimately living her life here.
With a degree in human services, Alysha doesn’t have anything specific in mind for a career, but knows she wants to be able to help people. In addition, she hopes to follow through and help people by coaching basketball at her former high school, Wasilla High, at some point.
With the support of family and each other, the Devines look to prosper in their final seasons of collegiate basketball in their home state.