HIDESHIMA TO AID CLINIC IN NICARAGUA

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Kelsey Hideshima will travel to Nicaragua later this month.

Kelsey Hideshima will travel to Nicaragua later this month.

RICHMOND, Va. – Next week, around the same time you’re at the mall, trying to decide if mom would look good in that pink Snuggie or if your brother really needs that “Dilbert” daily calendar, Kelsey Hideshima will be mulling over questions like, “does this look infected?”

On Dec. 17, Hideshima, a sophomore defender on VCU’s field hockey team, will depart for an eight-day trip to Carazo, Nicaragua, where she’ll help set up a free medical clinic. The San Jose, Calif. native and pre-med student will be traveling with an organization called Global Medical Training (GMT) along with other VCU pre-med, MCV and dental students, as well as a number of doctors. Hideshima and other members of the organization will pay for their own flights and have been busy soliciting donations for the trip in recent months.

The clinic will serve two purposes: To provide free health care to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access in the largely rural country, and to give hands-on field experience to a group of future medical professionals. Hideshima says many of their assessments will revolve around ailments common to agricultural workers in the fields.

Hideshima and her cohorts will work in groups of three and perform physicals for locals seeking health care. Hideshima and her team will draw up possible diagnoses and courses of action, which will be reviewed by the doctors on site.

“I don’t expect to get anything out of it myself. I just want to give as much as I can to them. But I think, going into it, I had the impression that I was going to get some clinical experience, and then also learn something about the history and the way these people live, because I feel like sometimes people get trapped in a bubble where they live,” Hideshima said.

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HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR TEAMMATE: THE ALBRIGHT SISTERS

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First things first. I was asked to knock out the cheeseball game show intro to this video on the spot, with no notice, or I would’ve practiced my plastic smile and demanded a Bob Barker stick microphone. Also, apologies to the A-10 for the late model pullover. I hate to derail your new branding efforts, but I wear the free stuff people give me. I digress.

We’re trying to bring you closer to VCU student-athletes than ever before this year. So plan on seeing more stuff like this and the even more embarrassing “Can CK Play?” series, the “Day in the Life” photo diary, the “Mic’d Up” segment and other features that help pull back the curtain.

Today, we’re meeting field hockey freshmen and twin sisters Jamee and Alexis Albright. We’re going to learn a little more about them, but more importantly, they’re going to learn a little more about each other.

EVERYBODY IN THE POOL, SUMMER’S GONE

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Summer’s gone. I’m not concerned with the technical definition of the season. We’ve all been conditioned to mentally terminate the summer once school resumes. I still do that today because when fall sports kick back online every August, it’s go time in the office. That day is today. We got a little preview last week with women’s soccer’s early start at Virginia Tech and Marshall, but Friday and Saturday, field hockey, volleyball and men’s soccer will also begin their 2014 campaigns.

Our first order of business today is to present our next fall sports preview, field hockey. Although this sport willfully chooses to water artificial grass, we still love them. The Rams were 10-10 a year ago under former player and first-year Coach Laura Baker. This year’s squad is channeling its inner Queen Latifah, with more than a little conversation given to unity.

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VCU Volleyball is in Fort Collins, Colorado this weekend, where all they’ll do is play a road match against the No. 18 team in the country (Colorado State), then two other teams that are receiving votes (Marquette and UC Santa Barbara). This year’s roster features more freshmen (8) than upperclassmen combined (7), so the kids will get an idea about the top end of Division I volleyball pretty quickly. Second-year Coach Jody Rogers, who punts excuses into the rafters for fun, doesn’t sound concerned.

“Age is just a number, and I always tell them that. I don’t want to have an excuse, everybody else sees a young team, I don’t care. They’re ready. I want them to be ready.”

The Rams were 26-8 last year in Rogers’ first season.

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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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