August 28, 2013
Henrico County Basic Jailor Student Academy, Marlene Stollings, Zakia Williams
VCU senior guard Zakia Williams (second from left) at the graduation and awards ceremony for Henrico County’s Basic Student Jailor Program earlier this month.
RICHMOND, Va. – Bill Cosby once wrote a book called “Congratulations! Now what?”, which doled out postgraduate wisdom, laced with the comedian’s trademark humor, to college graduates. It’s said that there’s a little bit of truth in every joke, and Cosby’s cheeky title is a good example. Graduation can be an exciting time, but many students aren’t prepared to navigate life after the diploma.
But Zakia Williams doesn’t plan on being another rudderless graduate. She’s already planning ahead. This summer, the VCU senior guard took an important step towards a smooth “real world” transition. A Criminal Justice major, Williams was recently deputized through a joint program between VCU and the Henrico County Sheriff’s Department called the “Basic Jailor Student Academy”.
The nine-week program trained and certified VCU Criminal Justice upperclassmen in a number of areas, including firearms, mental health, defensive tactics and CPR. In its third year, the program was developed by Henrico Sheriff and VCU graduate Michael Wade in 2010 as a way to reduce overtime costs and prepare Criminal Justice majors for their careers. Students who complete the program are certified and eligible for part-time employment in the county’s corrections system.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for me because ultimately that’s what I want to do. I want to work in corrections,” said Williams, a native of Columbus, Ga.
There was plenty of upside in the program, but there was also a catch.
June 26, 2013
Baseball, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Golf, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Men's Tennis, Track & Field, VCU Athletics, Volleyball, Women's Basketball, Women's Soccer, Women's Tennis
Adam Ball, Atlantic 10 Conference, Brandon Ruffin, Briante Weber, Cindy Chala, Courtney Conrad, Havoc, Hayley Moorwood, Heath Dwyer, Jaleesa Williams, Jason Johnson, Jessica Pellechio, Jessica Williams, Joey Cujas, Kelsey Scherrer, Kiara Porter, Marlene Stollings, Matt Ball, Matt Ball Jr., Matt Lees, Max Wennakoski, Paul Kostin, Quanitra Hollingsworth, Robyn Parks, Ryan Farrar, Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels., Yoram Mwila
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.
April 2, 2013
Marlene Stollings, Robyn Hobson, WBCA, WBCA So You Want to be a Coach
Robyn Hobson appeared in 98 games for VCU in four seasons and will graduate in May with a degree in Elementary Education.
RICHMOND, Va. – It appears that Robyn Hobson’s enthusiasm is matched only by her confidence, which is why when she says she wants to change the world, it’s okay to believe the VCU senior has the chops to do it.
That doesn’t mean that the road to a better world is an expressway. Sometimes the storm washes out the bridge, as Hobson learned recently. Sometimes you need to row across the river.
Last summer, Hobson, a four-year letterwinner for the VCU Women’s Basketball team who will graduate in May with a degree in Elementary Education, decided to put together her own girls’ basketball camp in her transplanted hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Hobson’s mother helped her organize the three-day camp for 15 girls ages 6-12 at a local gym.
“I just felt like I really wanted to give back,” Hobson, 21, said. “I felt like Charlotte didn’t really have a girls’ basketball program. I felt like it was a great opportunity to test it out and see how it went, and it went great.
But it didn’t start great. Hobson, aided by her younger brother and one of his high school teammates, meticulously plotted the first day’s events. Things did not go as planned.
“The first day, I almost had a breakdown,” Hobson says with a laugh. “I had these whole schedules, laminated. I could’ve just thrown them in the trash.”
February 28, 2013
Allen Iverson, Marlene Stollings, Niki Dawkins
VCU Women’s hoops coach Marlene Stollings must’ve seen that Spike Lee had dropped by men’s basketball practice last week. Not to be outdone, she and assistant coach Niki Dawkins recently snapped this shot with future NBA Hall of Famer and Virginian Allen Iverson. Your move, Shaka.
Seeing all these recent photos of VCU coaches with celebrities reminds me that I wish I had an iPhone when I ran into Maury Povich once when I was 14.
February 13, 2013
Eric Thibault, Marlene Stollings, Ram Heads, Scott Wyant
You’ve probably never heard of the Ram Heads, VCU Women’s Basketball’s male practice squad. That’s because they operate only behind the closed doors of the practice gym. But recently, Scott Wyant dropped by practice to find out how this group of unknowns is making an impression on Marlene Stollings’ VCU program.
November 26, 2012
Jessica Pellechio, Kristen Somogyi, Marlene Stollings
Freshman Jessica Pellechio hit nine 3-pointers in VCU’s win over UMKC last week.
RICHMOND, Va. – Jessica Pellechio hit nine 3-pointers in a win over UMKC on Nov. 20, but she might be surprised to learn that she’s not even the record-holder in her own locker room. Rams’ Coach Marlene Stollings once drained 10 treys in a game at Ohio University.
Pellechio needn’t fret, she might be the Rams’ best shooter in years. Pellechio, who is averaging 14.0 points per game, has already hit 19 three-pointers in five games and has attempted 56. VCU’s single-season records of 94 made threes and 226 attempts are officially on alert. Last year, Robyn Hobson led the Rams with 25 made threes the entire season.
Pellechio’s emergence is no accident. Stollings says she has to practically throw her out of the gym most days. In addition, the 5-foot-8 guard from Annandale, N.J. has managed to surround herself with some outstanding coaching along the way.
In recent years, the sweet shooting guard has received instruction from the leading scorers in both Ohio and New Jersey high school history, women who rank among the top 25 all-time nationally in girls basketball history.
Since the eighth grade, Pellechio has worked with shooting coach Kristen Somogyi. Somogyi is the leading scorer in New Jersey high school basketball history, girls or boys. She poured in 3,899 points at St. Peter’s High School in New Brunswick from 1989-92, a mark which ranks 10th nationally in girls high school basketball history, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. She later played collegiately at Virginia and Rutgers and currently works as a teacher and AAU coach in the Garden State.
November 20, 2012
High Octane, Jessica Pellachio, Kaneisha Atwater, Marlene Stollings, Meagan Evans, Quanitra Hollingsworth, Robyn Hobson, Robyn Parks, Shekinah Henry, Zakia Willliams
Freshman Jessica Pellechio hit 9-of-18 three-pointers and poured in 30 points as VCU earned its first win of the High Octane era under Marlene Stollings
RICHMOND, Va. – So, this is High Octane.
After three games of starts, stops, spurts and sputters, VCU’s new look, dubbed “High Octane” by first-year Head Coach Marlene Stollings, clicked Tuesday night in a 79-55 rout of UMKC.
“I’m very proud of our young ladies,” Stollings said. “It’s not easy to go on the road to start the season, and this was well earned and well deserved to come back home and get an opportunity to show our fans for the first time with the new system and the new staff basically what we want to be about, which is getting up and down the floor and shooting three ball, which are two things we did very well tonight.”
You could argue Stollings was even being a bit modest. At the forefront of VCU’s shift into high gear was something she promised would be a High Octane staple, 3-point shooting. The Rams punished the Kangaroos’ zone to the tune of a school-record 13 three-pointers, including nine from freshman guard Jessica Pellechio, who finished with 30 points. Pellechio hit 9-of-18 from beyond the arc and was one 3-pointer short of tying the VCU record of 10, set by Meagan Evans in 2001.
“I struggled my first few shots,” Pellechio said. “Sometimes you’ve got to keep shooting as a shooter, but good shots, you never want to be off balance or [shooting] bad shots. We got it in and back out and set up my rhythm, and after a while you keep shooting and it falls.”
October 29, 2012
Carleeda Green, High Octane, Marlene Stollings, Robyn Parks
First-year coach Marlene Stollings’ up-tempo style of play has been well-received by returning players.
RICHMOND, Va. – Marlene Stollings has always been most comfortable in transition. As a player, she was at her best when the court was wide open and the possibilities were unlimited.
Her mindset in her first season as the coach of the VCU Women’s Basketball team isn’t much different. Stollings, who led Winthrop to an 18-13 record a year ago, will try to guide the Rams through a major makeover in 2012-13.
There has been heavy roster turnover. Four of the Rams’ top five scorers have either graduated or transferred, including All-American Courtney Hurt (22.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg) and Andrea Barbour (17.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg). VCU’s leading returning scorer is junior Robyn Parks, who averaged 6.6 points per game last season. There are five freshmen on the roster and several others with limited in-game experience.
But Stollings doesn’t seem bothered.
“It’s been an extraordinary journey so far,” she said. “We’re just looking and moving forward with all of our thoughts and actions. The transition has been a bit of a whirlwind in terms of our lateness of arriving here, but nonetheless, it’s been extraordinary so far.”
September 20, 2012
Marlene Stollings, Michael Schuster, Niki Dawkins, Nikita Lowry, Nikita Lowry Dawkins
Niki Dawkins (right), a longtime friend and colleague of VCU Coach Marlene Stollings, will serve as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Rams.
By Michael Schuster
As first year VCU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Marlene Stollings familiarizes herself with a new school, team and city, she can take solace in the knowledge that there will be one familiar face on the bench in assistant Niki Dawkins.
For eight seasons, Dawkins served as a top assistant under renowned Old Dominion Coach Wendy Larry. While Dawkins’ was a member of ODU’s coaching staff the Lady Monarchs were a dominant force in the Colonial Athletic Association, posting a 158-67 record, including 105-21 in league play.
Dawkins helped ODU to four CAA Tournament titles and a 2008 Sweet 16 appearance, and she hopes to bring that same winning mentality with her to VCU, which finished 19-15 last season. Dawkins has coached five WNBA players, 15 All-CAA honorees, five CAA All-Defensive Team selections and has been outstanding on the recruiting trail, signing some of the nation’s best.
As top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Rams, Dawkins’ nose for talent will be valuable for VCU as it moves into the nationally-recognized Atlantic 10 Conference. High character, the athleticism to run the floor and an ability to score the basketball will be some of the most important qualities Dawkins will look for in recruiting.