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Oct. 16, 2015

Sophomore back Becca Zamojcin (Phoenixville, Pa.) has been a mainstay of the Virginia defense since the very first game of her freshman season, starting every game for the Cavaliers. In addition to being a stand-out defender, she has also been a stand-out in the classroom, being named to the 2014 All-ACC Academic Team for the combination of athletics and academics. Last season she was also named to the SGI / NFHCA National Academic Squad and was a SGI/NFHCA Scholar of Distinction for earning a GPA of 3.90 or higher.

How intimidating was it to immediately jump into Division I Field Hockey as a starter as a first-year?
“It was definitely a shock. I honestly didn’t expect to play and I was just so grateful to be a part of the team. So the first time I saw my name on the board, I was just so grateful. I just wanted to give it my best and the coaches just trusted me and kept me in there, but I just keep doing my best. I never really expected to play this much, but it’s a blast.”

Have you always been a defender?
“I played indoor for a long time – I guess I started when I was eight or nine. I didn’t start outdoor until probably twelve or thirteen. I played defense for indoor, and then I always played a center-mid for outdoor in high school, but then for club I played defense as well. And since coming to college, it’s been all defense.”

What is it that you need to key in on to be a good defender?
“I just try and be consistent and do safe, strong passes. I never try to do anything special or different or try and dribble up the field. I really just try and get my teammates the ball and do my best to stop anyone coming down. I don’t really try anything super crazy. I’ve never scored or anything, but I just try and be consistent. I think that’s important for a defender.

You say that you never do anything ‘super crazy’ on the field, but you are a part of the corner defense, and from a fan’s point of view, that’s the craziest position on the field. You put on a mask and run straight at the ball and you are the one that is often going straight towards the person that is about to hit the ball. Talk a little bit about playing corner defense and getting into that mindset.
“I think it’s actually my favorite part of the game. I love flying. It’s like the one time on the field were I can be mindless and just sprint out. All that’s going through my head is do not let them score. I don’t have to think about anything else. I think it’s a lot more pressure to be on the post and know that if you have a weird touch that it could go in and you have to be in just the right position. But flying, I just feel like I can run right at the ball and do my best to get it out and do whatever I can so that they don’t score.”

A good portion of back line defense is just keeping your feet away from the ball. Do you guys do agility training or anything, or is that something that just has to come natural to you?
“We do a lot of mass training, and I think it’s more actually just playing and having good hand-eye coordination and just working on keeping your feet moving, but I definitely think all the sprints we do helps keep our feet moving.”

Let’s go back and talk about indoor for a bit. You were actually a part of the U19 national team. How many years did you play?
“Well I played indoor my whole life. I was a member of the Junior National team for a couple years before college. That was fun because we went to see Scotland. So I got to see Edinburgh, which was cool.”

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor other than the obvious indoor and outdoor?
“I think they are totally different sports. Indoor is a lot like ice hockey and it’s really fast. All passing, rarely any dribbling, no big balls. It’s a lot like ice hockey on the ground. It’s fast and fun. I miss it a lot. I loved indoor. I actually loved indoor better. I wish it was a college sport. But I love outdoor, too.

The other night on the bus after the Wake Forest win, you were studying Neurobiology. You’re a Biology major, right? What are some of the tought classes you are taking?
“Neurobiology is definitely my hardest one. I have another biology lab that I don’t mind, that’s not hard at all. Chemistry was definitely hard when I took that over the summer. I still have to take more Chemistry. Organic Chemistry is going to be tough and I have to take that as well. But I think Neurobiology is probably the hardest I’ve had.

How do you find time to balance something like studying Neurobiology with the amount of practice and travel and everything that you have?
“It’s tough. I just really have to stay disciplined and know the times when you want to be sleeping and you want to rest on the bus when you do not want to do work and you’re carsick, you have to force yourself. It is definitely taking advantage of the little breaks, so bus rides, airplane, anything.”

What is the most fascinating thing you’ve learned in Neurobiology this year?
I think it was really cool right after I got hit in the ulnar nerve (in the forearm) in a game and I immediately blacked out and I was so confused. I was like, “What just happened?” I got hit lightly and I wasn’t dehydrated, I had eaten, it wasn’t even that hot, I wasn’t tired. We had actually learned that there are certain nerves that you trigger that can literally shut everything down with a tiny little tap. I thought it was so cool when we actually went through the pathways and I could literally trace what had just happened to me. So that was awesome.

The Hoos are finishing the regular season playing six-straight ranked teams? Do you enjoy stepping up to this kind of challenge?
“I actually like having our hard games at the end going into the ACC and NCAA tournaments. I think it’s the best momentum. It’s the hardest to play teams that are going at the same high-pace as us, so it’s a great challenge and a lot of fun.

How excited are you to have the ACC tournament at home this year?
” I’m so excited. I love playing on the blue and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else for ACCs.”

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