ROCHESTER, NY – Former RIT women’s hockey captain Celeste Brown (Great Falls, MT/National Sports Academy) became the first player in program history to sign a professional contract, inking a deal with the New York Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) on Friday, June 26.
The NWHL launched in April 2015, with its inaugural season to debut on October 17. It is the first paid professional women’s hockey league in North America. The NWHL will start with four teams and plans to expand the league with additional teams and locations across North America. The founding four teams are the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters.
“I am very humbled and honored to sign a contract for the first NWHL season,” said Brown. “It is huge for not only myself, but for so many other girls and for women’s hockey in general. I am very excited for this upcoming season.”
A two-year captain, Brown led the Tigers with 10 goals in 2014-15, while leading the Tigers to their second straight College Hockey American Championship and first appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament. She also led the Tigers with four game-winning tallies during the year. In 139 career games with the Tigers, Brown tallied 70 career points on 42 goals and 28 assists. She is RIT’s Division I career leader with 30 goals and her nine career-game winning tallies are tied for ninth-best all-time at the university.
Brown, who graduated in May with a degree in sociology/anthropology, was part of an incredible senior class. This group won a NCAA Division III National Championship as freshmen in 2012, helped RIT make the successful transition to Division I in 2013 and back-to-back CHA titles in 2014. RIT’s seniors finished their four-year career with an impeccable 15-2 record in postseason play.
Brown scored the game-winning goal early in the period that broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Tigers to their first and only NCAA Championship in 2012. A model of consistency, she scored 12 goals as a freshman, nine in 2012-13, and 11 in 2013-14. In the classroom, Brown was a three-time CHA All-Academic Team selection and in 2014 was named a CHA Academic All-Star for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. She finished her collegiate career with an excellent 3.73 GPA.
“We couldn’t be happier for Celeste,” said RIT women’s hockey head coach Scott McDonald. “She is a high energy player who has put in a lot of hard work and is really dedicated to getting better. Celeste is one of the pioneers of this league and we can’t wait to see her play professional hockey. It is a great step for our program as well, knowing we have our first pro player.”