"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
– John Quincy Adams, the Sixth President of the United States of America.

Arialle Hess has always been a leader, whether she intended to or not. A naturally gifted athlete in many areas, Hess didn't have to push herself to her limits both mentally and physically like others, but she did anyway to set an example.

"Arialle's leadership abilities extend way beyond the field," Hess' high school coach Donna Hibshman said. "She was always the pace-setter in anything we did as a team, and if when she finished, she would go back and encourage her teammates the rest of the way. That's who Arialle is, she's always been a lead by example type of person."

Hess is trying to take her leadership to the next level to help VCU Field Hockey reach new heights in her final season with the Rams this fall.

After a record-setting 2010 season for the Black & Gold, VCU showed flashes last fall, but couldn't find the consistency and struggled through a tough year. Hess wasn't going to let that be the standard for the program.

"Since the first day our offseason started last fall, Arialle's sole focus has been to become the best leader possible for this program," Head Coach Shannon Karl said.

Hess has always been a quiet person, but she knew that in order to be the best leader for the program, she had to become a little more vocal and step out of her comfort zone. That's exactly what she did.

She met with Cassie Pasquirello, the Life Skills Director for VCU, and her teammates to discuss the steps she could take to become the best leader possible for the Rams.

"Arialle's made great strides in growth not only as an athlete, but as a person and a leader. We're all really excited to see it come to fruition this fall," Karl said.

And if one were to think that leadership is the only thing that Hess brings to Rams, they might think again when she flies past her defender like Sonic the Hedgehog. Her speed is unrivaled on the field hockey turf. She's the Usain Bolt of VCU Field Hockey.

"The speed that she brings is super, super dangerous. You can't teach speed, you're either gifted with it or you're not. She's definitely been gifted with it," Karl said. "On a forward line that can be very dangerous with someone like Kelsey Scherrer, it can make for quite the dynamic duo up front for us."

With Hess' speed and leadership, the Rams are excited about the new challenge they are facing in the Atlantic 10.

"We've got a great group of student-athletes who are doing things we've never asked of them before," Karl said. "We know that it will be a challenge facing many new opponents, but we're excited about the opportunity that awaits us."

And don't worry, Hess has knocked out a few more sets while you've been reading this feature.