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North Carolina

Field hockey Final Four a little smaller for rhino-raising Travers

Posted November 13, 2012
Updated November 14, 2012

— As the University of North Carolina's field hockey team gets ready for the NCAA Final Four, sophomore Samantha Travers is less awed than her teammates by the spotlight for a very unique reason.

Travers grew up on her family's game preserve in Zimbabwe. Their work in breeding black rhinos became the subject of a reality TV series where she lived for months with a camera crew following her family's every move.

“Mom and I couldn’t have a normal conversation because I couldn’t discuss my friend or boyfriend issues knowing that 12 other people are listening,” Travers said.

UNC's Travers going from raising rhinos to final four UNC's Travers going from raising rhinos to Final Four

The show, which ran on Animal Planet, documented the birth of a baby black rhino. But the story line took an unexpected turn even before it got started.

“They came six-and-a-half weeks after the baby was born and sadly, we just had a huge poaching incident where the mother of the baby had been killed,” Travers said. “That’s why we had to take the baby into the house because it needs a full time mother; obviously my mother did that. Then, at the same time, we got a pet warthog and a pet hyena, so it was a bit of a crazy household.”

That's where the show's name came in to play – "There's a baby rhino in my house." It has run worldwide, and Samantha's mom really did take a baby rhino into her house to raise.

“They are big, gentle giants,” Travers said. “If you respect them, they will respect you. My parents have taught us to respect everything.”

Travers, a starter on the back line for Carolina's No. 1 ranked field hockey team, has a background different from that of the other Tar Heels, and as you might expect, she had a bit of culture shock when she got to Carolina.

“When she first got here, it was difficult for her top even fathom the grocery store,” said head coach Karen Shelton.

“For a long time we had to go to another country just to get our groceries,” Travers explained.

Travers has already had a worldwide journey and the next stop is the field hockey Final Four.

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  • Tarheel born Nov 14, 8:47 a.m.

    What a great story about this young lady's life. Let's add one more NCAA National Championship ladies!

    GO HEELS!!

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