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Three-sport stars of a different kind

 

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Everybody had that friend they met in elementary school. The friend that was on the top of the list when it came to handing out birthday invitations when you were younger, and the friend that always rode shotgun when you were older.

A best friend.

Havre's Shane Kemmer and Kyle Miller have that, but on another level completely.

About 12 years have come and gone since Kemmer and Miller first met, and they have continually become better friends ever since. It's not uncommon to have close, tight knit friends in a community as small as Havre, but the amount of time Kemmer and Miller have spent together comes in a very unique way.

After the two first met it didn't take long to realize they had the same interests.

Both Kemmer and Miller shared and still share a love for hockey, baseball and tennis. And from their days in little league to their days as stars on the ice, they have played all three sports on the same team for the past decade.

"We have always just played the same sports since the beginning," Miller, who just graduated from Havre High said. "We have been friends for quite a while, and always playing the same sports, that was probably why we became such good friends.

"We matched up well and liked the same sports," Kemmer, who graduated from HHS in 2009 added. "It definitely made (playing) a lot more fun. And when we get bored there was always somebody on the same competitive level there to play whatever sport. It made things a lot better." Hockey has a relatively solid fan base in Montana and here in Havre.

But on a larger scale, hockey, tennis and baseball just don't match up with football and basketball, especially at the high school level.

But to Miller and Kemmer that didn't matter. Their love for hockey, tennis and baseball outweighed the popularity of basketball and football.

When Miller was younger he tried his hand at both football and basketball.

And though Kemmer never took his athletic ability to the basketball court, he too donned football pads for a short while growing up.

Miller and Kemmer would have been stars no matter what sport they played. But when it came to decision time, football and basketball didn't make the cut.

"I basically gave up football so I would have a little bit of time to get ready for hockey," Kemmer said. "I started hockey when I was five so it was just a part of my life. I was going to stick with that for sure, so when basketball was brought up I didn't even think about it twice. I was going to play hockey." The reasoning was the same for Miller as well. He loved the game of hockey so much that it took the place of two mainstream sports. Hockey season was during basketball season, so that wasn't going to work, and football season was used to prepare for hockey season, so that too was a no go.

Their decision to pass on basketball and football was never regretted.

And after becoming two of Havre's better multi-sport athletes in recent history, their decision didn't go unrewarded either.

At the age of 15 Kemmer and Miller were apart of the Babe Ruth baseball state tournament, where they emerged as state champions. And as Havre Ice Hawks, they also made several trips to the high school state tournament, bringing home a second, third and fourth place finish.

"They were always my three favorite sports so I am glad I stuck with them," Miller said.

The love Miller and Kemmer shared for the compilation of sports they played made their friendship stronger during the off-season as well as their skills during the season.

Teammates have a tendency to grow closer during the season anyway.

Camaraderie is key component to a successful program, and when you can stand to be around a guy after the season is in the books, friendship grows that much stronger.

And mixed with a dose of friendly competition, Miller and Kemmer have been pushing each other to constantly get better.

Perhaps nowhere did they push each other more then tennis. Although the two were a year apart, the both wrapped up brilliant prep careers for the prestigious Havre High boys tennis program. Between them, they were part of five different state trophy teams, while individually, they combined to go to the state tournament five times. Kemmer was a twotime divisional singles champion, and finished third at state his senior year.

Miller has a state championship in doubles, a third-place finish in singles and a runner-up finish in doubles.

"Their friendship certainly was a foundation for how good of athletes they both became," HHS head tennis coach George Ferguson said. "I've known both of them for a long time. They are extremely competitive and two great athletes. They are those types of kids who are just good at everything, and what's even better is they had each other to make them even better athletes.

They pushed each other hard, competed with and against each other and both ended up having great tennis careers in their own right, and together. What they've done with tennis, baseball and hockey is pretty unique and it's been impressive to watch them grow up over the years."

And both Miller and Kemmer agree that their close friendship helped blossom their athletic prowess in all three sports.

"Whenever we were hanging out we would go play tennis or baseball or something," Miller said. "We were pretty much always practicing something and we were always competitive.

"We definitely pushed each other to get better and stick with it," Kemmer added. "We never rubbed it in each others faces, but the competitive nature was definitely there. There was no question that's what we always wanted to do and that's how we got better. Really as young kids that's all we did." But from young kids to now, their sporting careers may be coming to an end.

Kemmer is playing in his last season of American Legion Baseball for the Havre North Stars, as is Miller. And with opportunities to compete together growing slimmer, the long streak of staring on the same teams may soon come to an end for dynamic duo that has been shining in Havre over the last decade.

"I will definitely miss it," Miller said. "It will be weird when next year rolls around and I can't play any of these sports.

"It would definitely be different and weird," Kemmer emphasized.

But nothing is set in stone as of yet.

And Kemmer and Miller's glory years may not be over quite yet. Baseball at the college level is still an option, and Billings may be the very place this tradition continues.

"We have both thought about playing baseball in Billings," Kemmer said. "I think that would be fun.

"We have both thought about that," Miler added. "So maybe in the future. Who knows though." One thing is for certain, whatever happens in the future, Kemmer and Miller have done sports their way, done what they love instead of what everyone thinks is popular or what they should do. They've done it their way and they've done it together.

 
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