Shippensburg Field Hockey team honors fallen teammate and coach on Alumni Day

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Video credit: Mary Grace Keller, The Slate

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa.– The Shippensburg University Field Hockey team held its annual Alumni Day on Saturday, August 20. The event, both solemn and celebratory, honored one alumni who was not in attendance.

Amanda Strous, 27, a former player and coach for the Red Raiders, was murdered in her apartment complex on Saturday, June 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina. A recently released autopsy revealed Strous suffered blunt force injuries, burns and strangulation.

Matthew Thomas Benner, 28, her downstairs neighbor, allegedly set Strous’ apartment on fire after attempting to murder her. Benner was arrested in Nevada and charged with first-degree arson and murder.

According to the Slate, friends, family and teammates gathered at Shippensburg University on Saturday to celebrate Strous’ life and speak of her impact. Strous, of York, graduated from the university in 2011, playing field hockey from 2007 to 2010. She later returned in 2012 to pursue her master’s degree while she was an assistant field hockey coach for three years.

At the time of her death, Strous worked as a college counselor at Central Piedmont Community College. She was engaged to Cory McCleaf, who came to Alumni Day, along with Strous’ parents and two brothers.

McCleaf placed a 22 sticker, Strous’ number, on the 2013 team’s championship banner at the Robb Sports Complex.

Current members of the field hockey team wore light purple T-shirts as they played against the alumni, who wore dark purple. The T-shirts said “Fly High 22,” referring to Strous’ jersey number. Some included a printed quote from Strous, “I love my best friend, Ship hockey.”

Strous’ jersey will not be worn this season and the field hockey athletes will put heart stickers on their sticks and wear purple shoulder scrunchies with Strous’ initials, A.K.S., head coach Bertie Landes said. Jersey #22 will be on the bench with the team at every home and away game.

According to the Slate, Strous will see her legacy live on in an academic way as well. The Amanda Strous Memorial Scholarship will be established this year, kicking off Sept. 24 at SU’s home game against Seton Hill University. The details of the scholarship are still being worked out, Landes said, but it will go to a junior or senior member of the field hockey team.

“My current team is just so dedicated to live their lives with the light that Strous showed us, and with the passion that she showed and the love that she showed,” Landes said, “It has been life-changing for this team already and I just can’t wait until this season starts.”

Shippensburg is not alone in honoring Strous, as Dallastown High School is set to have a fundraiser for its former player. Coach Jeri Myers said the team is working out the details, but plans to sell t-shirts in Strous’ memory.

Myers said, during the Tuesday, Sept. 6 game, there will be a celebration of Strous’ life. Players will wear a purple t-shirt, wristband, and shoe laces, Strous’ favorite color. Dallastown players will be releasing balloons to remember all of Strous’ contributions to the Dallastown field hockey family.

Photo slideshow can be found here.