Tragedy and the world of sports are no strangers to each other. Every team, every franchise and every player has a story. SU field hockey has worn its heart on its sleeve this season after the horrific death of former player and assistant coach Amanda Strous this summer.
Tragedy has a tendency to galvanize a group, bringing out the true character of a team. We have seen this historically, something that transcends all sports. Whether it is the New Orleans Saints taking the Super Bowl after hurricane Katrina devastated the city or the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series following the Boston bombings: teams often find a way to come together and soar to heights they might not reach otherwise in the face of adversity.
“Our season is dedicated to her favorite saying, ‘Live, Laugh, Love,’” said SU head coach Bertie Landes in an earlier interview with The Slate. “The 2016 squad is committed to leaving a legacy of love, laughter and a commitment to excellence that Amanda Strous showed us through her short life.”
This message has resonated with each and every player on this season’s field hockey team. Since the season began, the Raiders have taken flight, dedicating each game in Strous’ honor. Nearly every game has been a neck-and-neck affair, but SU almost always finds a way to come out on top.
SU has had three overtime games already in its short season. When a game is headed into overtime, everyone from the team comes together in a tight huddle. The team has a brief talk, and Shippensburg returns absolutely electric. One can only imagine the impact Strous continues to have to bring together each player closer in the face of adversity. This particular season for the women is one charged with emotion and camaraderie, and head coach Landes’s expectations are as high as ever.
“We were not satisfied with just making it to the quarterfinals,” Landes told The Slate in a previous interview. “This season, our desire is to make it all the way to the final game and win our second PSAC [Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference] Championship in field hockey.”
The Raiders ran off a five-game-win streak to start the season, but hit a bump in the road when it fell to the PSAC defending champs, East Stroudsburg University in overtime on Saturday. But sometimes, a loss is what a team needs to realize its true potential. A team learns from a loss. A team can build from a loss. And this is a team that has experienced a loss this offseason—greater than anyone could have imagined. But, this Raider squad has become stronger because of it. This team is prepared to leave it all on the field every game in Strous’ honor. This team is ready for another PSAC title, and they have all the motivation in the world to do it.
Sports Editor William Whisler also contributed to this article.