Olympians weren’t the only Virginian athletes competing on the national stage this summer.
VCU field hockey junior defender Natalie Bohmke and midfielder Spencer Tossone were both selected to compete in USA Field Hockey’s Young Women’s National Championship. The pair of Rams impressed in regional competition to earn spots in the exclusive tournament.
“USA Field Hockey events are always exciting and really well run, with the best coaches and players coming together,” Bohmke said. “Having played in various events in high school, I knew what to expect, but it’s more exciting at this level.”
The Fredericksburg native and Stafford High School graduate was named to All-Area, Conference, Region and State teams after her senior high school season before appearing in all 18 games of her freshman campaign for the Black and Gold.
“The tournament was a lot of fun because I got to play with and against some girls I never had before,” Bohmke said. “It was really neat how close we became in the time we were together.”
Tossone hails from Virginia Beach. The junior midfielder contributed to two state championship teams at First Colonial High School before earning All-State honors her senior year. Tossone started 16 games for the Rams in 2015.
“It’s great for the program to send two players (to the USA tournament), and the coaching they receive there is fantastic,” said coach Laura Baker. “I think it really shows we’re progressing and getting better every year.”
Tossone and Bohmke are embodiments of the progress made by Baker’s program. The ability to attract high-profile talent out of high school has been elusive in the past.
“When I visited VCU it felt like home from the moment I stepped on campus,” said Bohmke. “I couldn’t ignore the feeling I had when walking around that this was the place I belonged. The coaching staff were great at sharing their vision for the future both academically and athletically. For all aspects of college, VCU was the right place.”
The Rams finished the 2015 season 6-12 overall and 3-5 in Atlantic 10 competition. Baker, Tossone, Bohmke and the Black and Gold will look to improve upon that tally in 2016 with ample new experience to bring to the table.
“One of the best things about all the USA field hockey events is not only the level of coaching but the diversity of coaches,” Bohmke said. “They really challenged us to think outside the box and believed in each of us as players. It was fun to have a different style of play for defensive pressing and out-letting within various zones of the field. Both the coaches and competition challenged me to play at my best every game.”
VCU will host the A-10 field hockey tournament at the culmination of the 2016 season. Bohmke and her squad are hungry to give fans reason for excitement with home-field advantage in their conference championship on the horizon.
“Having the tournament in Richmond and a home crowd around, will be an amazing experience,” Bohmke said. “We have a great group of girls and I am really excited to see what we will accomplish this season.”
Sports Editor, Zach Joachim
Zach is a junior pursuing a dual degree in print journalism and English. A proud Norfolk-ian, he enjoys long walks on the beach, English literature of the romantic period and anything pertaining to Harry Potter or baseball. Zach an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan who can usually be found working at the Student Media Center or running along the James. // [email protected]