HEISER: Amanda Strous was much more than a star athlete
- Dallastown High graduate Amanda Strous was a homicide victim in North Carolina.
- A vigil was held to honor her memory on Monday evening in York Township.
- Strous was a standout field hockey player at Dallastown High and Shippensburg University.
Amanda Strous was a prodigious athlete.
Anyone who had the privilege of watching her dominate field hockey foes could attest to that.
The Amanda Strous story, however, was about much more than just sports talent.
Strous also was a student, a counselor, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a coach and a soon-to-be wife.
Someday she might have been a mother.
Now, tragically, at the tender age of just 27, she's gone. Over the past few days, the distressing circumstances surrounding her homicide in North Carolina have been well-documented. There's no need to recount the grisly details here.
Suffice it to say, hers was a life cut dreadfully short.
She will be missed.
There is no doubt about that.
It was abundantly clear on Monday evening in York Township, when the light of day slowly faded while fireflies flickered in approaching darkness. Hundreds of York County folks turned out for a vigil to pay tribute to the Dallastown High School graduate outside of the home where Amanda grew up and where her parents still live.
They laughed, and they cried. They hugged, and they prayed. They sang, and they held candles.
Most of all, they remembered.
Most of us didn't know Amanda, but after Monday's vigil, we feel as if we did. That's because the people who were closest to her generously allowed us to get a glimpse into her spirit.
They remembered a woman who was equal parts kindness and toughness, athlete and student, coach and counselor.
Her brother, Kyle, might have put it best when he said: "We all know we've got one kick-ass angel watching over us."
Yes, Amanda was a very good field hockey player and later a very successful field hockey assistant coach. A quick check of The York Dispatch archives turned up dozens of stories about her considerable athletic prowess, both at Dallastown High and later at Shippensburg University.
Her on-field achievements, however, were just part of a “laundry list” of Amanda's accomplishments, according to her father, Eric.
Since her death, we've learned about some of the other parts of Amanda's much-too-short life.
We learned she was a committed student, both in high school and college, culminating with the earning of a master's degree in mental health counseling. We learned she had landed a job as a counselor at a community college near Charlotte, fulfilling her passion to help young people. And we learned she was to be married in just more than a month.
Sadly, Amanda will never be married, and she will never have children, but she did leave behind some words of inspiration that we would all do well to remember.
Her parents asked Shippensburg University to share something that Amanda wrote during a graduate class there called Death and Dying. She wrote that being part of the field hockey team changed her life and urged people to pursue their passions.
“It taught me so much more than just how to be an athlete, and even though some of those life lessons were tough to learn, I am grateful for them," she wrote. "I was blessed to have a family of sisters to form a bond with that was so rare. ... Please continue to find passion and meaning in your life, for without those two things, life is meaningless. Celebrate my life and reminisce through the good times, because I am in a better place, and you only live once."
That life-affirming statement tells you everything you need to know about Amanda Strous.
Yes, she was a athlete of uncommon abilities.
But after listening to the heart-felt tributes from her family, friends and teammates and reading her own stirring words, something else even more important becomes apparent..
She also was a woman of uncommon character.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.