If you're a Shippensburg University field hockey player, wearing uniform No. 22 has become a “privilege.”
“Privilege” being the perfect word.
It's also a perfect way to pay tribute to one of the program's all-time great players, who just happened to wear that number with distinction during her Ship career.
From now on, every time a Raiders field hockey player takes to the field carrying that number on her back, she'll also carry the memory of Amanda Strous with her.
It's completely appropriate that the first woman to earn that honor — and it's truly an honor — is also from York County.
Dillsburg's Brooke Sheibley is the first winner of the Amanda K. Strous Memorial Field Hockey Scholarship. The Northern York High School graduate was presented with the recognition on Sunday at the Shippensburg University Field Hockey Spring Tournament. As the scholarship recipient, Sheibley will have the “privilege” — there's that word again — of wearing No. 22 in her senior season with the Raiders.
Story of triumph and tragedy: Strous' story of triumph and tragedy is well known in these parts.
The Dallastown High School graduate was a star for the Wildcats' hugely successful field hockey program before moving on to Ship. There, she became a beloved member of the Raiders' storied program, first as a standout player and later as a valued assistant coach.
Strous later moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she became a counselor at a community college. She was preparing to be married when she was senselessly murdered last June at just 27 years of age.
To say that her death rocked the Dallastown community would be a vast understatement.
In fact, folks all across York County found a number of ways to pay homage to Strous. There was an emotional candlelight vigil, hundreds attended her funeral, there were fundraisers and ceremonies and a Dallastown scholarship was established in her memory.
Earning the honor: Sunday's ceremony at Ship is just the latest effort to keep Strous' legacy alive.
During a break in the tournament, recently retired Ship field hockey coach Bertie Landes announced Sheibley as the scholarship winner. Sheibley was then joined by her teammates for a group embrace. The legendary Landes led the Raiders' program when Strous was both a player and a coach at Shippensburg.
In 2013, Strous was the primary assistant on the Ship squad that won the program's first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship.
Field hockey a passion: Field hockey was a driving force in Strous' life. Now her passion for the game will live on with every Ship player who earns the “privilege” of wearing No. 22.
After her death, her parents asked the university to share something that Amanda wrote during a graduate class there called "Death and Dying." Strous, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, wrote that being part of the field hockey program 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. 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."
In a life cut much too short, Strous managed to touch innumerable lives in Dallastown, Shippensburg, Charlotte and beyond.
Now Strous' memory will live on every time Sheibley, and the future scholarship winners, take to the field wearing No. 22.
It's a “privilege” they should wear with pride.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some information for this column was provided by Shippensburg University.
Following is the criteria for winning the Amanda K. Strous Memorial Field Hockey Scholarship.
1. The recipient will be selected in the spring of the student-athlete’s junior year and be a member in good standing of the Shippensburg University field hockey team
2. The recipient must exemplify the following characteristics:
a. Ability and desire to improve their field hockey skills and be a positive team player.
b. Willingness to help others on and off the field.
c. Strong bond of love for family and the Ship field hockey family.