By Kirby Arnold
For The Enterprise
The Fjortoft sisters have played basketball together since they were fender-high to the family car and bouncing balls around their cul-de-sac in Edmonds.
Three of them have taken their game from the street to high school.
Annelie is a junior guard, Hanna a sophomore forward and Julia a freshman guard for the undefeated Meadowdale Mavericks.
A couple of years ago, Jane Fjortoft hinted at the possibility her daughters could become high school teammates.
“When Julia is a freshman, all three of you could be playing together in high school,” Jane Fjortoft said she told the girls.
Three siblings playing varsity ball on the same team? At Meadowdale no less, where roster spots are highly competitive?
Welcome to the Mavericks of 2006-07.
The team is 7-0 and, despite losing some key players off this past season’s eighth-place state tournament team, is again showing some star power. Junior guard Eryn Jones is averaging 17.6 points a game with senior forward Marelle Moehrle at 15.0.
And three of the Fjortoft sisters, just like mom said, are a part of it.
Hanna is averaging 10.1 points and brings tenacious defense to the floor. She was an All-Western Conference honorable mention selection as a freshman. Annelie comes off the bench and backs up Jones at point guard. Julia, a freshman guard, is already showing a style similar to Hanna’s speed and athleticism.
All are multi-sport athletes — Annelie also plays volleyball and runs track while Hanna and Julia play soccer and run track.
There’s also a fourth sister — Sara, a sixth-grader at Holy Rosary School in Edmonds and a force on the basketball court.
“She’s going to be better than all of us,” Julia Fjortoft said.
Such a sister act isn’t unknown at Meadowdale. The Mavericks had two of the best a few years ago when the O’Neill sisters — Kelly and Kristen — starred.
The Fjortofts know what a special season this is because they can share their triumphs and struggles together, both on and off the court. They learned each other’s moves at home in the cul-de-sac, playing basketball together with their father, Per Fjortoft.
“We can read each other on the court and know what the other one is going to do,” Hanna Fjortoft said. “It’s because we’re so much alike.”
It almost didn’t work out this way.
This past season, Hanna Fjortoft played on varsity but her older sister, Annelie, was on the JV squad. Annelie had thought about focusing on volleyball and giving up basketball, but changed her mind.
“I’m very proud of Annelie for having the courage to come back,” Jane Fjortoft said. “With Hanna on varsity and Annelie on JV last year, it was difficult. I wondered if she could go through it again knowing that Julia was coming up this year.”
The sisters say they aren’t there just to support each other, and they don’t play their game to the exclusion of others on the Meadowdale roster. The entire team feels like a family unit, they say.
“There’s no cliques,” Hanna Fjortoft said. “The whole team feels like we’re related.”
Coach Dan Taylor says the sisters support their teammates as much as they support each other.
“Team chemistry is so strong because they are loving to all the other girls,” he said. “They hang out with them, they all have fun together. They work hard on the floor and they work hard in the classroom. They’re very strong academically and have great personalities.”
This isn’t the first time three Fjortoft sisters have worn the Meadowdale uniform together. Two years ago, when Annelie was a freshman, the Mavericks played in a tournament in Oregon. Hanna was in eighth grade and Julia in seventh at Holy Rosary. Former Meadowdale coach Karen Blair asked the girls to bring their basketball shoes because the Mavs were short on players.
“All three of them suited up together, and that’s when it seemed possible that they could play together when they all were in high school,” Jane Fjortoft said.
At Meadowdale games this year, a half-dozen boys have formed a Fjortoft rooting section, wearing the sisters’ old Holy Rosary middle-school jerseys.
“Now, people at school are coming up and asking, ‘That’s really cool. Can I have a shirt? Do you have any more?’” Annelie Fjortoft said. “And I just tell them, ‘Well, yeah, but I’m starting to run out.’”
Off the court, the Fjortofts work out together, shop together and spend plenty of free time at Starbucks. Hanna enjoys making pottery, Annelie likes photography and Julia is smitten by the Nintendo Mario Kart video game.
Kirby Arnold writes for The Herald in Everett.