Amanda Steffey makes position leap to fill void for women's ice hockey team
Imagine a point guard playing center in basketball, a quarterback playing linebacker in football or a first baseman starting as a pitcher.
The circumstances are all similar to the predicament junior Amanda Steffey of the women’s club hockey team is in.
After playing forward her last two seasons, she is the starting goalkeeper for Central Michigan.
The responsibility was not forced upon the quiet girl, from Woodhaven. She volunteered because nobody else did.
“We needed a goalie and I said I would play,” Steffey said. “I like challenges.”
It has not been easy for her, allowing 16 goals per game this season.
“I still can’t believe she was nice enough to volunteer to give up her entire season to play goalie for the rest of the team,” junior goaltending coach Colin Beck said. “Knowing full well that she was going to get shelled a few times, she actually volunteered to do it and stuck with it.”
The team, which has a 0-10 record, is not lending support on the ice, scoring just under a goal per game.
“The entire team is behind the eight-ball because they have so few girls,” Beck said. “By the time the third period comes, with 13 girls on the team, they are completely gassed.”
Steffey, 20, had her best game against Ohio State on Oct. 20. She allowed 10 goals and made 21 saves.
“I think she’s doing great,” team president Hannah Deacon said. “She’s improving every game and every practice.”
Beck, 22, has tried to teach her things from about 10 years of experience he has between the pipes.
At the beginning of practice on Nov. 8, it was as simple as just goofing off with a timid Steffey until she threw soft punches at the goalie mask he was wearing.
Then, it was another day of being taught the most basic concepts required for a goalie.
“She’s been frustrated with a few things but, overall, she has been learning how to play goalie pretty well,” Beck said. “I had to teach her how to skate in goalie pads, how to move, how to go down to make the saves and get off the equipment.”
Steffey first started playing hockey when she was around 7-years-old. She sat in the stands watching her brother, who is three years older than her, play and became intrigued.
One of the first positions she played: goalkeeper.
She did not like it then because, like any other child, she did not enjoy being bottled up inside the blue semicircle.
Returning to her role of protecting the net over a dozen years later, it is still not her favorite thing to do in the sport she enjoys playing, but she has no sticking with it.
“I rather be a player, but our team needs a goalie,” she said matter-of-factly.