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NWHL: Interview with Celeste Brown of the New York Riveters

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The road to being part of history for Brown started in Montana and brought her to Brooklyn. Let's get to know #24 from the New York Riveters a little bit better.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Each of the NWHL's first 72 paid professional hockey players had a unique road on their way to being a part of history. Celeste Brown of the New York Riveters is no exception, she is the only player in either the NWHL or the NHL to be born in Montana, a state with a population of a little over a million people. After a decorated collegiate hockey career at the Rochester Institute of Technology Brown finds herself playing professional hockey in a city with a population of nearly eight and a half million people and in a borough with a little under three million people. Brown has shown no signs of being intimidated by the Big Apple and she is poised to make an impact for the Riveters in the NWHL's inaugural season.

On a Riveters team that was built to feature a blue-collar game, Brown might be the truest embodiment of New York Riveters hockey.

Brown's career at RIT was superlative and it started off with a bang when she played a pivotal role in helping RIT win the Division III National Championship with a 3 point third period in the championship game as a freshman. As you can see from the video above, Brown's game is all about hustle, two-way play, and intelligence. On the forecheck Brown knows just where to put her stick to break up plays in all three zones of the ice making her the kind of player that coaches both love and trust. Brown excels at getting pucks on net, drawing penalties, and creating turnovers. On a Riveters team that was built to feature a blue-collar game, Brown might be the truest embodiment of New York Riveters hockey.

Celeste Brown taking to the ice at Aviator for the first time in September.

In 139 games as a Lady Tiger Brown poured 428 shots on net while scoring 42 goals and picking up 28 assists. Despite her high-energy game and tireless motor Brown spent only 53 minutes in the penalty box during her college career and was a dangerous player for RIT on the power play, picking up 12 of her 42 goals on the man advantage. The young woman from Great Falls, Montana currently holds the record for most Division I goals for the Lady Tigers with the 30 she buried after her amazing freshman season. She served as the captain of RIT in both her junior and senior year and in that role she led her team to back-to-back College Hockey America Championships in 2014 and 2015.

"The Riveters are looking for dynamic hockey players with a relentless work ethic, and Celeste embodies that both on and off the ice." -Dani Rylan

Although Celeste Brown is just 23 years old she is undoubtedly one of the prime candidates for leaders in a Riveters' locker room filled with character players. With a seemingly bottomless gas tank, Brown will be a player that is easy to notice in the Riveters' inaugural season and is likely to see a lot of time at even strength and during special teams play. In the preseason she spent a significant amount of time skating with the Riveters' most dangerous forward line with Janine Weber at center and Beth Hanrahan on her other wing. Brown's hustle and quick stick created a lot of space for Hanrahan and Weber to display the chemistry they developed playing together for a year of college hockey. Celeste Brown has already shown that she knows how to play a featured role, a complimentary role, or any other role that Chad Wiseman might ask her to play during the 2015-16 NWHL season.

I was fortunate enough to interview Celeste Brown which she made possible despite her very busy schedule. Let's get to know #24 of the New York Riveters a little bit better.

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Mike Murphy: What were some of the challenges you faced growing up as a hockey player in Great Falls, Montana?

Celeste Brown

"The only real challenge was when our home ice was closed. However, we found solutions by playing in Canada or other places."

MM: I understand that you had an incredible experience in Norway this August with Skedsmo Ishockeyklubb working with young girls to grow the game. Can you tell us what that was like?

Courtesy: Celeste Brown

Celeste Brown

"Yes, I went to Skedsmo this summer to help young girls. It was amazing. Being able to travel to another country and teach the game you love is very rewarding. The young girls were very nice and excited to learn. The country was beautiful and everyone there was so nice. I hope to go back."

MM: How does it feel knowing that you will likely inspire young girls to pick up a hockey stick for the first time?

Celeste Brown

"It is pretty rewarding. I think right now, most if not all of the girls are aware of this but cannot fully conceptualize the degree of impact we really are having. We love our sport and to have new girls try it because of us makes us excited to see where the sport will go and the impact it will have on others."

MM: Your coach at RIT Scott McDonald described you as being energetic and hard working and Dani Rylan has said that you are "all heart and a natural leader." What do you think made you a successful player and captain at RIT?

Celeste Brown

"Hard work and passion are my two things. I love this sport and have put my whole life into it. It has made me who I am as a person with all the journeys I have endured. If I didn't love the sport this much I would be able to put everything I have into it. I know for different situations in life you can tell when someone really loves what they do and it is easy to pick up on that so I think those same characteristics allowed me to be a successful player and captain at RIT."

MM: So Celeste, three of your former RIT teammates signed with the Buffalo Beauts. What gives? Have you circled November 29th on your calendar yet?

Celeste Brown

"#Canada.... No, I think Buffalo just seemed to be the spot for them. I wish them the best of luck there and I know they will do great. All three of them are amazing players and are all good friends of mine. We will always bleed orange but on the 29th we will be going head-to-head and I cannot wait."

MM: After attending all four NWHL camps in May what did it mean to you to sign with the New York Riveters and then to be named one of the two players that Riveters' general manager Dani Rylan said will surprise a lot of people this season?

Celeste Brown

"Signing with the Riveters was really a dream. I honestly love everything about being here so far. The hockey, the lifestyle, the city, the people I have met and I cannot wait for the season to really start."

MM: What was going through your head when you finally stepped onto the ice for the team's first practice on after Media Day?

Celeste Brown

"I was really just ready to get going. I had been waiting all summer and the moment was finally there. It was nice to get to play with the girls and meet the coaching staff. I was mostly relaxed, however."

Being a nuisance to Jenny Scrivens during practice.

MM: Do you think that the identity of the team and the system that coach Chad Wiseman is implementing suits you and your game?

Celeste Brown

"I think the identity of the team does suit my game because it is high-paced and hardworking. We hope to be that team that is an actual team where everyone is needed to win the game."

MM: Your wheels and hustle have been on full display in the preseason. How important is conditioning to your success?

Celeste Brown

"Yeah, for me, it is pretty important. When I am conditioned I feel good and can play to my potential."

Brown on the attack against the Whitecaps with Hanrahan and Weber.

MM: Did you do anything different this summer to prepare for the NWHL camps and the upcoming season?

Celeste Brown

"I continued with my normal process. Skating, working out, sleeping, eating healthy."

MM: What are your early impressions of Brooklyn? Have you had the chance to spend enjoy the City with some of your teammates yet?

Celeste Brown

"My early impressions were that it was kind of relaxed. I thought it was going to be crazy all the time, but that's more Manhattan. I have had time to explore with teammates and it is awesome. I love it here."

MM: You signed your first professional contract on June 26th and now we're just a few weeks away from the start of the NWHL's inaugural season. Can you describe what the past few months have been like for you and what it feels like to know that the puck finally drops on October 11th in Connecticut?

Celeste Brown

"Well, the last few months have been a whirlwind. Apartment hunting was CRAZY and I mean crazy, so that was interesting. Moving and getting adapted was another adventure. So I am actually really happy for the puck to drop, because for me it means I can get back into the swing of things. Routine and fun filled weekends of hockey."

Brown has a deceptively dangerous and accurate shot.

MM: What does Celeste Brown do when she's not thinking about and playing hockey?

Celeste Brown

"I work at Lasker Rink in Central Park and I also hang out with friends and explore the city when my time is not consumed through hockey."

MM: Is there anything you'd like to say to Riveters' fans?

Celeste Brown

"YOU GUYS ROCK! I LOVE THIS CITY!"

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It's easy to see why Celeste Brown, with all of her potential, leadership qualities, and skill, was the second player to sign a contract with the New York Riveters. You can grab Celeste's jersey here and see her take the ice for the Riveters' home opener on October 18th against the Boston Pride at Aviator Sports and Events Center. From a town with less than 60,000 people to the City that Never Sleeps, Brown's journey to the NWHL is truly an amazing one. Don't miss her when she makes history with the Riveters this Sunday against the Connecticut Whale or on the ice at Aviator in one of the Riveters' nine home games.

I want to give a tremendous thank you to Celeste and the Riveters for making this interview happen. You can follow Celeste Brown on twitter at @celestebrown8 and get to know the Riveters' resident sparkplug even better.

Thank you for reading. Let's go Riveters.