East Penn Press

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VCU ATHLETICS Meredith McNelis has helped VCU to a 6-0 start. VCU ATHLETICS Meredith McNelis has helped VCU to a 6-0 start.

McNelis contributes immediately for Rams

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 by CJ HEMERLY Special to the Press in Sports

When asked what she enjoyed most about the field hockey program at Virginia Commonwealth, junior Meredith McNelis didn't have to think long.

"We're like a family," the 2010 Emmaus grad responded. "We're not just a team and we're together all of the time and get along really well."

Well, it's all in the family for McNelis. Former Green Hornet saw action in 14 games her freshman season, starting three.

The defensive-minded McNelis also made two defensive saves her first two seasons, which she stated is always her main individual goal each season.

"It was an awesome experience," McNelis said. "It feels really good to get some playing time so early because it gives me good experience for future years. I was able to learn more and more about college hockey since it's so much different than high school field hockey. It really helped me develop a lot quicker."

While a student athlete at Emmaus, McNelis helped the Green Hornets to a 98-6-1 overall record and a state championship. The Hornets won four straight Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 titles.

"Sue Butz-Stavin definitely helped me a lot," said McNelis. "She really worked us hard, and we had a good work ethic coming out. I also learned how to take criticism well from a coach, and that really helped me prepare for college."

McNelis comes from a winning pedigree and is used to being on winning teams from her years at Emmaus. So it is nothing new to her that her Rams field hockey team has started the year with a program-best six straight wins and are looking at making a run in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

"I think we've had a pretty good start to the year so far," said McNelis. "Every day we continue to push ourselves and work harder. Our goal is to make it to the A10 championships, and I think right now we have a pretty good head start."

The exercise science major noted that she loves the diversity at VCU, and how there is plenty to do around the area.

"The coaches [at VCU] saw me at a club tournament my junior season and asked me to come down for a visit the following week," McNelis said. "My mom and I drove down and I fell in love with the coaches, the team, and the school. I committed the week after."