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Noel Devine plays with his infant son Noel Devine Jr. at his Cape Coral home in May.
Noel Devine plays with his infant son Noel Devine Jr. at his Cape Coral home in May. / Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com

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Noel Devine believes he has a higher calling than professional football.

That’s to be a role model for his community.

Devine’s example starts with his own children – seven-year-old Desirae, four-year-old Destyni and six-month-old Noel – at the home he shares with Candace Chikitus, his girlfriend of nine years.

“He’s a great father; the kids never have a dull moment with him,” said Chikitus, 26, an ophthalmic technician. “He’s always said he wants to give them what he doesn’t have.”

Their family also includes Devine’s six-year-old son Andre, who lives with his mother in Lehigh Acres.

“We see Andre every other weekend,” Devine said. “He comes over here and plays with his sisters. They love him. I make sure he understands we love him the same over here as his mom. Even though he lives over there, he has a family over here.”

Devine doesn’t think having children at a young age prevents him from being a positive example. Don’t expect him to express regret that he fathered Desirae and Andre as a high school sophomore. That’s not an emotion one is going to see when Devine looks at them.

“This is where the love is at,” he said. “I just want to be the greatest father I can be. Superdad, not Superman.”

Devine believes having children at a young age actually helped stabilize his turbulent life.

“It grounded me in a way,” he said. “It’s not about you anymore. It’s about the kids first and maybe you second or third.”

Both Devine and Chikitus admit their relationship has had its ups and downs, especially during Devine’s high school years.

“I love my kid Andre but it was just a tough situation I put myself into, not being safe,” he said.

“It took a long time for me to overcome and accept that,” Chikitus added. “But I had to accept that for me, Noel, Andre and the kids. Andre is not just Noel’s son; I feel like he’s my son too.”

The family bond grew stronger when Devine, Chikitus and their children moved to their own home for the first time this year.

“Noel got the kids ready and took them to school every morning,” Chikitus said. “He had dinner ready for me every night when I got home. It’s definitely a lot harder without him being here now.”

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Devine and Chikitus sat their older children down before he left in late May for training camp with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

“They know he’s playing football and they know that he’s doing that for them,” she said. “They know that but they still miss him.”

Chikitus is in the process of applying for passports so the family can visit Devine in Canada, like they did when he was at West Virginia. For now, communication is confined to text messages and regular phone calls where Devine receives updates on his children’s activities.

Devine’s family is also the driving force being another goal, finishing his college degree. A sociology and anthropology major at West Virginia, he’s 23 credits shy of graduating.

“There were lots of doubts about me going to college period,” said Devine, who plans to start taking online classes following the CFL season. “(The degree is) just for me and my family, not the people on the outside. It’s more for my kids so they can have something to look forward to. ‘Oh, my dad went to college; I can too.’”

Devine said that’s one step in his overall goal for his children.

“To give them everything I didn’t have,” he said. “All I can do is try to be great at everything I do. Everything else will take care of itself.”

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