TAMPA, Fla. — While the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a west coast road trip before the holiday break, a group of up-and-coming hockey stars own the ice at Amalie Arena.
It's a group of 25-30 girls, ages 6-16, who are learning the basics of the game from one of the best in the world.
“Stick-handling and shooting,” Zita Molnar, 6, told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “We go around the person and shoot.”
This girls-only holiday hockey camp is being hosted by Kelley Steadman in her role as hockey development ambassador for the Lightning-Made program.
“Usually I jump right in the drills because I am still kind of a kid myself,” Steadman said. “I like to make it as fun as possible for them.”
Steadman began playing hockey when she was five years old.
“When I was a kid there wasn’t much girls hockey,” she said. “When I was little the U.S. National Team did a camp near my hometown. That was my first experience knowing what the Olympics were and knowing that women played.”
Steadman may just be the perfect person for this job. She’s won two world championships as part of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Her goal now is to grow the game in Tampa Bay.
“It’s really important. I'm lucky enough to play my whole life,” Steadman said. “I traveled the world and played with some of the best players in the whole world. Now that I am into coaching it’s about giving back and giving the next generation the same experience I had. Here in Florida, I think there is a big spot for girls hockey to continue to grow.”
As Steadman said, growing the game is easier when you’re the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions.
“We have a lot of kids that have never played but they have heard of the Lightning and know they are a championship team and get really excited.”
The camp runs through Dec. 22.