When Kelley Steadman heard that the National Women's Hockey League 2017 All-Star Weekend would be taking place in Pittsburgh at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Feb. 11 and 12, she was thrilled for a couple of reasons.
"For one, I was excited to not have to drive anywhere," she joked.
That's because Steadman is constantly on the road. In her role as director of hockey operations for Robert Morris University, she travels with the school's women's hockey team. In addition to that, Steadman is a forward for the Buffalo Beauts - one of four NWHL teams - and represents them whenever she can.
As of now, the 26-year-old has played in seven of 13 games and has five goals and 10 points.
"It's a lot," she admitted. "I obviously don't get any weekends off, which is fine for me. I like to be busy. When I have to miss games for the Beauts, that's when it's tough because I want to be there for every game. But I made a commitment to Robert Morris and they're really good with letting me go when I need to. If I have to drive separately to a game, they let me do that. It's crazy, but I like it. I don't mind the crazy."
The native of Plattsburgh, N.Y. has been working at RMU for about three years and has grown to love the city of Pittsburgh during her time here - the other reason she and Beauts teammate Brianne McLaughin are excited for the game to be here.
"We just love the city and we've gotten to know a lot of great people here, so we're just excited to share it with everybody," Steadman said.
One of the aspects Steadman loves the most about Pittsburgh is the support that women's hockey has here, which is something she's been telling her fellow players about.
"With programs like Pens Elite for the girls and the boys, there's just so much focus on youth hockey and growing the sport," she said. "And just with all the support we've gotten from the Penguins and everybody else, it's going to be great."
Steadman will be one of the team captains for the All-Star Weekend. The other will be Amanda Kessel, whose brother Phil is a winger for the Pens.
At the NWHL's inaugural All-Star Game last year, Steadman scored the first-ever goal in the event's history and was named the MVP as she helped her team to a 9-1 win. When asked what fans should expect this year, she replied, "A lot of talent and a lot of fun."
"We just have a great time on the ice being together," she continued before adding with a laugh, "Normally we're all rivals and we're pretty competitive, so it's going to be a competitive game. But everyone will get to see just how talented women's hockey players are."
When it comes to what to expect from the women's game in general, Steadman tells people to prepare for a lot of physicality.
"Because we can't hit, some people aren't as attracted to it right away," she said. "But then they come to a game and they realize just how physical women's hockey is, and they're always like, 'I can't believe you guys can do that!'
"So I think people are just always surprised by the level of talent and just how much flow there is to the game because there is no checking, but then also there's the physical element to it as well."
The Colonials are hosting RIT at 2:05 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Fromthere, Steadman will dive right into the All-Star Weekend. It kicks off at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the Skills Showdown, and the game itself will be played Sunday at 3 p.m.
"After we hopefully go and win both of those, I'll definitely get the focus on just kind of enjoying it and having fun with a bunch of friends I don't get to see a whole lot and don't get to play with a whole lot," she said. "So it's just going to be great to have the support that we're going to have with friends and family and everybody there. I'm looking forward to it."