On Wednesday at Millersville, two of the top-three teams in NCAA Division II field hockey clashed in the latest edition of an outstanding rivalry: the No. 1-ranked Shippensburg Raiders against the No. 3-ranked Millersville Marauders.
The game was as fiercely competitive as expected, given it was another match-up of two high-caliber programs that regularly exchange wins and losses.
Yet it was a gesture that occurred before the game — before the rivals renewed acquaintances — that left an impact with many in attendance that day.
On the far side of Chryst Field, Millersville players and Shippensburg players formed a unity circle — one Marauder holding hands with one Raider — all the way around.
The purpose of the gesture was to show a shared appreciation and bond for the legacy of Dallastown High School grduate Amanda Strous, SU’s national champion coach and player. A tribute was read over the loud speaker as the teams came together in the circle.
Strous was murdered this summer in North Carolina.
“It’s so incredible to see Amanda’s legacy not only affecting us, but so many of our opponents,” head coach Bertie Landes said. “I am amazed at how her legacy left us with such passion for field hockey, and her joy of living, as she cared for those around her…it continues to live on.”
Landes added, “It touched our hearts. It is such an awesome example of how Amanda lived her life, and how both Shippensburg, Millersville and others continue to honor her in their daily lives.”
The unity circle wasn’t a mandatory gesture. It was simply a group of field hockey players who came together and shared in a moment that was straight from the heart. They were united by a common cause, and are living and playing with a purpose.