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Transfer Taleah Scott has scored two goals and assisted on two others for VCU this season.

Transfer Taleah Scott has scored two goals and assisted on two others for VCU this season.

By Nathan Heintschel

A trip from Crookwell, New South Wales Australia to Moon Township, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia covers about 10,400 miles. A few bumps in the road are inevitable when covering that kind of distance.

VCU Field Hockey senior Taleah Scott continues to absorb that road’s imperfections and is enjoying the ride.

The 22-year-old Australian comes from humble beginnings. Roughly two and a half hours outside of Sydney, Crookwell is home to fewer than 3,000 people. The town is not too dissimilar from many small downs in western Virginia. It seems like everyone knows each other, kids can roam free without worrying their parents, and there is no movie theater.

Despite how many times you have to click to zoom in on Google Maps to find Crookwell, the area is well-established on the sports map.

“We’re renowned for sport,” Scott said. “We have Olympians in our town, well-rounded, all-around, cricketers, hockey, soccer, football, rugby leagues.”

Crookwell and neighboring town Goulburn each produced a pair of athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Scott credits her family and Crookwell for her interest in sports. The daughter of Narelle and David Scott chose soccer as her first organized sport. However, her team lost all of its games, and she quickly lost interest. She picked up a field hockey stick around age four and followed the same path as her older sisters Maigan and Kirstie.

Scott played field hockey on club teams throughout high school and earned recognition. She played for the Australian Capital Territory state team in both the U15 and U18 leagues, teams that competed at the National level. Despite her success on the turf, Scott faced a critical decision has her high school career drew to a close.



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Kendall Farino been a four-year standout for VCU on the field hockey turf, but her best performances have come off it.

Kendall Farino been a four-year standout for VCU on the field hockey turf, but her best performances have come off it.

RICHMOND, Va. – Kendall Farino couldn’t help herself. At team picture day last fall, she removed the retainer that held her temporary tooth and mugged for her headshot. For the rest of the year, grinning alongside her official team bio was Farino, one tooth short, looking like America’s most cordial hockey enforcer.

“When I’m 80, I’ll think it’s hilarious. I think it’s hilarious now. I’ll have three other [headshots] with a mouth full of teeth, and I thought it would be fun,” says Farino, a senior midfielder on the VCU Field Hockey team. “But mom and dad were not happy.”

It was a small, rare act of rebellion for a player whose reputation is closer a team mom than class clown.

“I’m very type ‘A’, straightforward, follow the rules, do everything I’m told, so it was very off the wall for me,” she says.

In reality, Farino, a genial Virginia Beach native, has been something of a model citizen during her four-year career. Studious, driven and organized, she serves as a team co-captain.

“I think Kendall’s kind of stood out, even before we got her here on campus,” says VCU Head Coach Laura Baker. “She stood out in the way she conducted herself as a 16-, 17-year-old. She was different than most girls we have on campus. She’s always been a very mature young lady, and that’s continued during her four years here.”

An exercise science major, Farino last received a ‘B’ in a class as a senior in high school. Correction: it was a B-plus.

“High school calculus,” she says. “I was pretty mad.”



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Fifteen of VCU's 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games will be broadcast on national networks.

Fifteen of VCU’s 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games will be broadcast on national networks.

Big sportsball news today. No, not that deflated footballs thing. I mean, VCU released its full basketball schedule, complete with teevee information. As my 3-year-old says at the pool, let’s dive it.


We’ve known about the non-conference schedule for weeks now, so I won’t get into that too much, other than to note CBS Sports Net picking up the Cincinnati game on Dec. 19.

Atlantic 10 Conference play begins on Jan. 2 with a familiar face. The Rams will welcome George Mason to the Siegel Center that day. VCU swept a pair of games from the Patriots last year. Mason, however, will look quite a bit different. Dave Paulsen, a TV sitcom dad look-alike, has taken over as head coach.



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Tom Cruise took early lumps in films like "Losin' It" before putting together championship-like performances in movies like "Risky Business" and "Top Gun".

Tom Cruise took early lumps in films like “Losin’ It” before putting together championship-like performances in movies like “Risky Business” and “Top Gun”.

If you had your choice to play any kid on the playground one-on-one, who are you going to pick? Are you going to zero in on some diminutive kid with a bad haircut and a busted jumper, or are you going to body up to future All-American and genetic lottery winner Johnny Riflearm? Your choice is an important one.

Sure, you could run that first kid off the playground and still have time to go get lunch, but what would you learn? What would you gain, other than a false sense of confidence? On the other hand, Mr. Riflearm may block your shots, drive right past you and dunk in your grill. But I’d be willing to bet you’d be a better player for it.

Similarly, VCU teams could rack up a bunch of early wins by playing weak teams. That kind of thing happens all the time. But it’s clear they’ve chosen the more difficult path, the high-resistance, high-reward path.

It’s why you should be able to understand a weekend that didn’t produce much in the way of wins, but inevitably helped the Rams sharpen their edges. The VCU Volleyball team went to Purdue and took on a Boilermakers team that has been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament. The Men’s Soccer team welcomed back-to-back ranked teams to Sports Backers Stadium, Field Hockey opened on the road at Kent State and Women’s Soccer hosted perhaps the CAA’s best team in James Madison.

Each coach has different feelings on moral victories, but you can’t deny the way the Rams tested some very good teams. Hopefully in the future, overtime will be a little more friendly to VCU.

In the meantime, we’re going to take our lumps and move on. Volleyball is first up with Tuesday’s home opener against William & Mary. The Rams and Tribe comprised one of the CAA’s best rivalries during VCU’s final years in the CAA, and it’s nice to see the series continue.

More importantly, we’re giving away free pizza and sunglasses to VCU students tonight. For you VCU students, here are a few .gifs I hope will show you how to appropriately utilize your new eyeware.

The optimist.

Channel your inner optimist.



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Phoebe never did make it out of Central Perk.

Phoebe never did make it out of Central Perk.

I’m no Taylor Swift fan, but, she can be an awfully likable person sometimes. I enjoyed the heck out of “Friends” during its 10-year run, and seeing Lisa Kudrow sing “Smelly Cat”, the most memorable song in the career of Kudrow’s “Friends” character, eccentric coffee house singer Phoebe Buffay, with Swift, the burgeoning pop megastar, did spark my internal archive of the series.

One of my favorite memories is from the episode “The One Where No One’s Ready”. In one scene, Joey seeks revenge on Chandler by wearing his entire wardrobe, all at once. During the ensuing argument, Joey teases Chandler. “

“Look at me, I’m Chandler. Could I BE wearing anymore clothes?”


It goes on from there.

I uttered something similar the other day when I noticed a full weekend of VCU games, the first of the school year. We got a little teaser last weekend with the women’s soccer openers, plus some exhibitions in other sports, but now we’re going full bore. Can we be playing anymore games right now?

Check out this slate:

Women’s soccer vs. Charleston, 5 p.m.
Men’s soccer vs. No. 25 Akron, 7:30 p.m.
Volleyball at Purdue, 7 p.m.

Field hockey at Kent State, 1 p.m.
Volleyball vs. Ohio (1 p.m.) and Austin Peay (5 p.m.)

Men’s soccer vs. No. 21 Coastal Carolina, 5 p.m.
Women’s soccer vs. James Madison, 7:30 p.m.

With that much action, it might be difficult for you, as a responsible VCU fan, to know what to watch. Let me help.

You may notice that men’s soccer is playing two ranked teams. This will be a theme throughout the season. VCU Coach Dave Giffard has made a point of assembling one of the toughest, if not THE toughest, schedules in the country. As of right now, there are NINE ranked teams on the schedule, including the top three teams in the country. I’m pretty sure Giffard would schedule Real Madrid if compliance would sign off on it. There’s going to be a ton of top-notch soccer played at Sports Backers Stadium this fall, so make sure you catch some of it.

The volleyball team will have a bit of a new look this year. The Rams will look to replace three key starters, including a couple of players who were good enough to sign pro deals. The Rams will be tested early at Purdue, a perennial Big Ten power. There’s also a bit of VCU history involved here. The Rams met Purdue in their first NCAA Tournament match in 2005. The next night the Rams draw Ohio, the alma mater of your favorite blogger and a team that is normally in the mix for an NCAA bid.

There’s plenty more to keep an eye on, of course. Field hockey will be getting underway and women’s soccer looks to build on a 1-1 start, but I’ll spare you the 1,000-word blog this week. Just know you can keep up with all that stuff on VCU Athletics DOT com, as well as all of our associated Twitter accounts.

Between now and then, I’m going to launch a Twitter campaign to convince Taylor Swift to invite David Schwimmer and his keyboard onstage at her next show.


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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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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.


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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.


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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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.



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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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