By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Senior defenseman Kelly Seward has long been a centerpiece of the Penn State program, playing in at least 35 games in every season she's had so far in Happy Valley. She has come a long way in her development since arriving on campus in 2013, but one thing that has remained constant is her commitment to the program.
"I wouldn't have rather been at any other school," Seward said. "It's been a great experience just being able to play with all the girls I've played with, play in these awesome facilities under (head coach) Josh [Brandwene]. I'm really going to miss it."
As someone who prides herself in academic performance, Seward has been on the All-CHA academic team in all three seasons as well as being named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar each of the last two years.
"She has contributed so much in so many ways over her four years," Brandwene said. "It started from day one when she was a freshman. As great a hockey player and student as she is, she's even that much a better person. To me, that's what makes a great Penn Stater and she is a great Penn Stater."
Junior Bella Sutton has been Seward's partner on defense for three years and says her off-ice time around Seward has produced many fun experiences.
"Probably a lot of things [come to mind]," Sutton said. "Kelly and I have been lucky enough to play D together and I feel like we just make the D-side of the bench a lot of fun. We like to sing songs together, keeping it fun on the bench."
"There was one time the song 'Bang Bang' by Jessie J was popular," Seward said. "We just like looked at each other and we just said 'bang.' But we just started singing at the same time. It was really weird. It was like telepathy or something."
"Before every game, when we go out for the first period, we always give a little fist bump, do a secret handshake, so that's something," she added.
On the ice, Brandwene has been eager to heap praise on Seward, lauding her improvement throughout her time at Penn State.
"Her play has gotten better and better every single year," Brandwene said. "She's been that much more well-rounded, that much more dominant and she is off to such a good start, and she is going to go on to do great things this year."
Seward has certainly been a leader this season, especially for the younger defensemen making the transition to college athletics.
"As the senior member of the D-corps, someone who is committed to her craft on both sides of the puck, being involved offensively and taking care of her defensive responsibilities, she's a great role model for the whole D-corps," Brandwene said.
"The freshmen have done really great this year and we have eight of them," Seward said. "Just by looking at how we've been doing as a team, it definitely reflects how they're doing. I'm really excited."
"I really want to, every practice, every period, every shift just not take for granted that this could be my last year playing hockey," Seward said. "Just love every moment of it. And I would like to get a CHA championship out of it."
Winning a CHA championship has been a goal from the first day of practice for this Penn State team as conference play is less than two weeks away.
Aside from a championship, Seward can see a diploma in her future as well. She is on pace to graduate in the spring with a degree in geography.
Seward will not be the first hockey player in her family to graduate from college, as her brother, David, laced up for Nazareth College before receiving his certificate.
Seward's squad hits the road this weekend for a series at UConn before traveling to RIT next week to open CHA play.