Utica women’s captain Brown says youth days in Colorado shaped NCAA college career
Rebecca Brown is enjoying a successful fifth year of NCAA college hockey at Division III Utica College.
The Steamboat Springs native has been named a UCHC player of the week the past two weeks and is also serving as the Pioneers’ captain this season.
Truth be told, even as Brown started her college career in 2017 at Norwich University, she always knew Utica was a possibility.
“My entire recruiting process, Utica was always an option,” Brown said. “I had previously toured before committing to Norwich. Throughout high school I had spoken with head coach Dave Clausen. I knew I needed to make a change in schools, and I reached out through my old head coach from my freshman and sophomore year of high school, and everything aligned to make Utica my home. The connections you make through hockey last, and I was just grateful to find such an amazing fit at Utica.
“To be captain this year for this team is such an honor to me. I get to go to the rink every day and be around my best friends and my family. I take a lot of pride in being able to show my teammates and the underclassmen at Utica the ropes and impart some of the experience that I have learned throughout my college career.
As for the individual awards this season, like a true leader, Brown deferred credit.
“Obviously, it is a very important honor, but it wouldn’t have happened without my teammates and my linemates,” said Brown. “Every time I step on the ice, I am just doing what I love with my best friends so to be doing that and doing it well is incredible. Especially at this time of year, we must keep the ball rolling and take the momentum into playoffs and NCAAs.”
Growing up, Brown developed her game with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, Colorado Springs Tigers and Colorado Select and her senior year of high school at Steamboat Springs High School.
“I was born in Steamboat Springs and started out playing hockey for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association,” explained Brown. “From seventh grade on, I played for several different travel teams until I found a good fit playing for the Colorado Springs Tigers 19U Girl Prep Elite out of the World Arena. The head coach there was Rich Furia, and he taught me the foundations on and off the ice of what it means to be a hockey player. My freshman and sophomore years of high school were when I developed a lot of the grind and foundation that I would need for my college career. My family, while living in Steamboat, commuted down to Colorado Springs every weekend and often every Tuesday and Thursday to make practice and then out-of-state travel. After the Tigers, I then followed that coach to the Colorado Select 19U AAA team where I played a season and billeted in Littleton. My senior of high school, I went home and played for the Steamboat Springs High School boys team.
“My most impactful youth coach was Rich Furia. He taught me the famous saying that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, and that is something that I have brought forward with me to my life as well as to my college hockey career. I might not be the best or most talented, but I am going to be the hardest working player, on and off the ice.”
With such a distinguished career back home, Brown said she relished every moment.
“I don’t really have a specific memory or highlight that stands out to me because every day playing hockey and doing what I love is the best day,” said Brown. “The Tiger organization won the Bauer World Invite, so that was very cool, and of course the national tournaments every year were always fun because it was do or die. I don’t have memories of specific games but car rides, team wins, intense practices, and best friends that have turned into family stick out to me the most.
“My dad (Rich Brown) played hockey growing up and my older brother was playing so, obviously, I had to play. My parents made my brother and I pick between skiing and hockey in third grade and to my benefit, I chose hockey. I don’t know what kept me hooked. I have played hockey almost every day for the last 14 years and not a day has gone by that I have ever said I don’t want to play hockey today. I love it. My dad was a very influential person in my hockey career, and I think that some of my love for hockey comes from the love I have for my dad.”
Looking back, Brown said the girls’ game has grown in Colorado and she is happy to have been a part of the early growth.
“Girls hockey is growing,” Brown said. “When I was younger, it has hard to field a team in Steamboat and now they have an organization of 50 girls. I think it needs to continue to grow, however, it is very cool to see the availability of high-level hockey in Colorado.”
In the home stretch of the current season, Brown said she is excited for what the future holds both at and away from the rink.
“Utica College has brought me so much: a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, and a career path for my future,” she said. “I currently work as a nurse so short term, I am going to be doing that. I can’t speak to exactly where I will be next hockey season, but I can say that my hockey career isn’t over. Plans just need to solidify a bit. After my hockey career, I would like to coach college hockey.
“As a collective group, we expect to win and win together. We have a team of very talented players and when we work hard together, we are something truly special. For myself, I am going to work for my team, and enjoy every moment because I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Photo/Jeff Pexton/Perfect Game Imaging
— Matt Mackinder
(February 3, 2022)