FALL RAM REPORT NOW ONLINE

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Folks, the Fall 2013 edition of The Ram Report is now available online. Check out profiles on Men’s Soccer goalie Andrew Wells, Women’s Soccer Coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel, former first round draft pick Justin Orenduff and Field Hockey’s Nicole Barry, who had an interesting summer internship, plus a bunch of other good stuff. Click the cover below to read it all.

RR-fall13-cover

DEMASI SLICES RECORD BOOK WITH SURGICAL PRECISION

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Senior Stephanie DeMasi became VCU's all-time assists leader on Oct. 4.

Senior Stephanie DeMasi became VCU’s all-time assists leader on Oct. 4.

RICHMOND, Va. – This summer, as an intern for an orthopedic surgeon, Stephanie DeMasi observed a multitude of surgical procedures; from ligament transplants to hip replacements. The experience only reinforced her desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a surgeon herself.

“I think it’s really the atmosphere of being in the [operating room], having the excitement, the responsibility,” said DeMasi, a senior defender and captain on the VCU Field Hockey team of what draws her to the environment.

It’s relatively easy to see DeMasi becoming a surgeon because it’s a logical place for the transference of her skills. By others, she’s been described as bright, consistent, responsible and precise – very, very precise.

If you polled 100 people and asked what quality they desired most in a surgeon, a steady, precise hand would have to rank near the top of the list, and DeMasi has a track record of precision.

On Oct. 4 in a game against Radford, DeMasi recorded her 25th career assist to become the program’s all-time leader, surpassing a mark held previously by Stephanie Whitlow and Kelsey Scherrer. Like most of the assists in her career, DeMasi used a well-placed insertion pass on a penalty corner to break the record.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS EVER THIS WEEK (OCT. 1)

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Happy Shak-tober, VCU fans. This month is good for many things, among them (in no particular order): foliage, NBA training camps, candy corn, postseason baseball, marzen, candy corn, Atlantic 10 Conference races and, finally, candy corn. How does VCU Athletics fit into all of this? I’m glad you asked, even if you didn’t.

RAMS IN CAMP
NBA training camps are underway, which means three former Rams are in action, each with a different task in front of them.

Troy Daniels is in Asheville, N.C. with the Charlotte “soon to be Hornets” Bobcats. Troy earned a camp invite after playing on the Bobcats’ summer league squad in Las Vegas. Now would be a good time to remind Michael Jordan that Charlotte was 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting last year, and Troy Daniels (feel free to use the Around The Horns-approved #TreyD3 hashtag) hits threes in his sleep. If he was a dinosaur, Daniels would be a triceratops. If he was a TV station, he’d be ESPN3. If he was a stadium, he’d be Three Rivers.

Trust us, Daniels was born for this. We recently slowed down some film of Daniels shooting at training camp and captured his expression right at the moment he’s about to catch and shoot. Check it out:

Three, coming right up.

Three, coming right up.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS EVER THIS WEEK

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BASKETBALL BEGINS
Today, in accordance with new rules, VCU men’s hoops opens practice. The Rams will have 42 days in which to practice a maximum of 30 times. Set your 42-day countdown clocks. In the meantime, Coach Shaka Smart is talkin’ ’bout practice.

In that vein, if you can’t get excited by Shaka Smart Mud Face, then I can’t help you. Smart is literally willing to wade through the muck for his players. How can you not love a coach like that? Only Pat Kennedy’s sport coat is more willing to get down and dirty in the name college hoops.

Future marketing opportunity: "Tide, it wreaks havoc on tough stains."

Future marketing opportunity: “Tide, it wreaks havoc on tough stains.”

VOLLEYBALL, FROM THE FRYING PAN, INTO THE FLYERS
The 10-4 VCU Volleyball team kicks off Atlantic 10 play Friday at four-time defending league champion Dayton at 7 p.m. So much for easing into conference play. The Flyers were the coaches’ preseason pick again this year, but VCU has shown it’s not intimidated by a step up in competition. The Rams nearly upset No. 19 Kentucky and just-barely-unranked Wisconsin, and toppled Tennessee this season. The Rams have played an exciting brand of volleyball under first-year Head Coach Jody Rogers. Follow live scoring and audio at VCUAthletics.com.

SISTER, SISTER
VCU Field Hockey hosts Siena at 4 p.m. at Cary Street Field. Come for the fresh air and the smell of fresh cut turf, stay for the heartwarming sister reunion. VCU freshman defender Sydney Weise will share the field with older sister Callie, a junior midfielder for the Saints. The Weise’s hail from Freehold, N.J.

THE FURY IS RIGHT, ON SCHEDULE
The VCU Women’s Basketball team, which has adopted the slogan “Fear the Fury” this season, will travel to Ohio State for a second straight season, it revealed with Thursday’s schedule release. The Rams, who return A-10 leading scorer Robyn Parks and welcome a stacked recruiting class, will open at Youngstown State on Nov. 9 and also meet Richmond and Old Dominion as part of a competitive slate.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK
In case you missed it, former Ram Jason Johnson scored this fancy futbol goal earlier this week for the Houston Dynamo.

GREENER ACRES

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Things may look a little different at Cary Street Field this year. New turf, a joint venture between Rec Sports and the VCU Athletic Department, now blankets the corner of Cary and Harrison Streets. Not only will the surface play better than the old, but it promises to make VCU Field Hockey more attractive to recruits and the opposition. This season, six-time national champion and 2012 NCAA runner-up North Carolina will visit Cary Street Field, a match that would have been unimaginable before the turf upgrade.

A CONVERSATION WITH LAURA BAKER

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Mike Voyack and I recently caught up with new VCU Field Hockey Coach Laura Baker. Baker, a former VCU goalkeeper for the Rams, is looking forward to her first season at this helm this fall.

THE YEAR IN VCU ATHLETICS, FROM A TO Z

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Wrong A-B-C...whatever, close enough.

Wrong A-B-C…whatever, close enough.

June marks the conclusion of the college athletics calendar, and July’s arrival effectively signals the beginning of the 2013-14 season, at least for those of us in the biz, anyway. It all makes this week a good time to reflect back on the year that was in VCU Athletics.

A – is for Atlantic 10 Conference, in which, according to our slogan, the Rams were ‘all-in’. We were also all-in for another season of “Arrested Development” and Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches, so we’re having a good year. VCU competed in the A-10 for the first time in 2012-13, a move that has elevated the program’s national profile. The Rams’ first A-10 title came via the women’s tennis squad, followed by a men’s tennis crown days later. Meanwhile, several other sports (men’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer) reached the league’s championship final.

B – is for the Ball family, one of the driving forces behind the VCU Golf program. They’re like the Kennedy’s of VCU Golf, but with a better short game. Matt Ball may have just completed his 14th season with the Rams, but this one was surely different than the others. That’s because 40 percent of his starting lineup was occupied by sons Adam and Matt Jr. Son Adam, a freshman, led the Rams in scoring average (73.53) this year, while Matt Jr., a junior, placed seventh at the A-10 Championship and was named to the league’s All-Academic Team.

C – is for Courtney Conrad, the alliteratively named star of the women’s soccer team. Conrad led the Rams with 11 goals, including five game-winners, and received All-Mid-Atlantic by the NSCAA.

D – is for Daniels, Troy. If you are a fan of basketball players who score three points at a time (and the signed, obscure Mark Price picture in my dining room proves I am), then you would’ve enjoyed Daniels’ 2012-13 season. In 36 games, Daniels bombed a school-record 124 three-pointers, including games of 11, nine and eight.

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VCU’S DEA WORKED ON ‘LINCOLN’

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Autumn Dea (far left) with Spielberg (center) on the set of ‘Lincoln’.

This item previously ran on the blog in October of 2011, but was removed after about a day. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding about when it would run, and the production company’s desire not to disclose information about the film. “Lincoln” has since been released in theaters and has garnered significant Oscar buzz. Below is the original note on former VCU Field Hockey player Autumn Dea.

RICHMOND, Va. – Field Hockey junior and cinema major Autumn Dea is having a bit of a surreal week, her first as an intern with the Assistant Director’s Department for the movie Lincoln, which will be filmed mostly in Richmond. The film will be directed by Steven Spielberg and includes stars Daniel Day-Lewis (who will play Abraham Lincoln), Joseph Gordon Levitt, Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones. Shooting began today.

“It’s just nuts,” says Dea, a Honey Brook, Pa. native. “There are hundreds of crew members. It’s like a dream. Whenever I go in, I’ll look at the call sheet for the day and at the top it’ll say Director/Producer, Steven Spielberg. I’m just staring at it.”

Dea, the only current VCU student-athlete majoring in cinema, will be helping the second directors on set. According to skillset.org, “Second directors prepare and draw up the next day’s call sheet, (which involves confirming the details of who needs to be on set and at what time, the transport arrangements, extras required etc.).”

Field hockey season is in full swing, which makes this a less than ideal time for Dea to serve and internship. During the season, Dea will work on Lincoln roughly three days a week, which will require her to wake at 5:45 a.m. on those days. Although juggling field hockey, class and an internship is draining, Dea says it was a no brainer.

Dea played field hockey at VCU from 2009-11.

“It’s something you can’t pass up. You make it work,” she said.

Dea had previously worked as a freelance editor and a volunteer on some smaller productions, but nothing approaching this scale. According to IMDB, the production budget for Lincoln is rumored to be $100 million. Shooting is expected to continue through December.

Spielberg is one of the most influential directors and producers ever, churning out films like Schindler’s List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple and Jurassic Park, to name a few. Rarely is there a Spielberg-directed vehicle that isn’t a blockbuster.

With that in mind, Dea said that pretty much every VCU cinema major (about 100) applied to work on the film in some capacity, but only a handful were selected.

When she graduates next year, Dea will weigh her options. She’s considering applying for the VCU Brandcenter to study advertising. From there, Dea expects to end up in New York or Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Ultimately, Dea says she’d love to be a director.

“I like being a storyteller. I like conveying a concept,” Dea said. “The chance to put your ideas out there in possibly the most influential art form…and then you can be so creative and you can do so much with film.”

HERE’S THE (POSTSEASON) SITUATION…

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VCU’s last fall sports conference championship came in volleyball in 2005. The Rams have four chances to end that drought this fall.

VCU sports are enjoying a record-breaking fall, and for the first time since 2000, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball will all play in the conference tournament in the same year. A couple of them have legitimate NCAA at-large shots as well. Here’s a quick look at the postseason prospects of VCU’s fall athletic programs.

FIELD HOCKEY (13-5, 4-3 A-10)
Remaining Schedule:
Regular season complete
Atlantic 10 Tournament: The Rams are the No. 4 seed and will meet top-seeded Richmond in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. in Amherst, Mass. Click HERE for the A-10 Championship page.
Conference Championships: None
NCAA Appearances: None
Current NCAA RPI: 30
The Skinny: If this were hoops, VCU’s 30 RPI would be a sure ticket to the NCAA Tournament. However, the NCAA Field Hockey Championship is 16 teams, which means the Rams need to win the A-10 Tournament to dance. It won’t be an easy task. The Rams are 0-3 against the A-10 Tourney field (Richmond, Temple and UMASS) this season.

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RAMS CONQUER LONG AND WINDING ROAD

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VCU traveled 4,700 miles by bus this season and often employed “body warm-ups” to ward off stiffness and boredom. “You name it, we’ve probably stretched in it,” says senior Kelsey Scherrer.

RICHMOND, Va. – On the first road trip of the year, a 640-mile roundtrip jaunt to Piscataway, N.J., the VCU Field Hockey team committed an act so heinous, it could have derailed the entire season.

They forgot to bring movies.

“I think they were okay, but for us coaches, it was awful,” lamented first-year head coach Shannon Karl.

The DVD oversight was forgiven, but not forgotten. Player itineraries for subsequent trips were amended to include “movies” in bold lettering under the necessary items checklist. It’s hardly a trivial request. When you’re on the road as much as VCU this season, you’ve got to do something.

Of VCU’s 17 matches this season, including one scrimmage, 13 have been played on the road. In all, the Rams have logged a staggering 4,700 miles and 95 hours in bus travel. That’s nearly enough mileage to drive from Richmond to Darwin, Minn. – home of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine – and back, twice. They’ve become so acquainted with their bus driver (David, in case you were curious), that he attends their home matches as a fan now.

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