All it took was a few words of encouragement to propel Amber Youtz into greatness on a field hockey pitch.
The message delivered the summer before her sophomore year while playing for the USA Field Hockey High Performance team resonated loud and clear. She had a shot to be something special, her coach told her, she could be much better than she had imagined.
She hasn’t looked back since.
“The Princeton coach said, ‘You have so much potential and I would love to see where you can take it,’” Youtz said. “From that moment on, I changed my diet, I started non-stop fitness, and I was ready to become an All-American.”
Youtz finished up her freshman season with a breakout year, being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team as she started all 22 games and scored four goals.
It was her sophomore year, however, where she stole the attention of the conference’s defenses in breakout fashion, scoring a conference-leading 22 goals en route to being named the A-10 Offensive Player of the Year.
Despite an injury, she continued that momentum into her junior year and scored 16 goals in the 16 games she played, and was named a second team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
“There were a few times I had injuries here and had to sit out for a while,” Youtz said. “Those were the moments that really shaped me. I wanted to come back and play the best I could and I realized at any point field hockey can be taken from you so you have to play your best when you get the chance.”
This past season, her last one in a Temple uniform, Youtz played up to the potential she saw in herself that summer three years ago. She tallied 21 goals this season and became the first Temple player in 22 years to be named a NFHCA first team All-American.
The Dauphin, Pennsylvania native finished her career with 69 goals and 27 assists in 80 games played.
“[My career is] a little bit of a blur,” Youtz said. “You more remember the feelings you had during the games more than the points. … It’s off the field memories, I don’t even remember the scores of some games, but I’ll never forget how I felt with my teammates when we were on away trips.”
During the course of Youtz’s career, the field hockey program rose to national prominence. Building off a 9-13 campaign in her freshman season the team progressed annually. At the end of this year the Owls were ranked 11th in the NCAA field hockey Ratings Power Index.
The forward’s ability to turn herself from an average player into an All-American and Temple’s ability to rise from a losing program to a nationally ranked one are the types of things Youtz said define Temple field hockey and Temple Athletics in general.
“For us it has always been the hardworking underdogs,” Youtz said. “That mentality of never giving up and no matter who we’re playing we’re going to be just as great as them. I think that mentality has been transferring over and now we’re finally up there with the big teams in this program.”
With her days as an Owl behind her, Youtz was offered an opportunity to play professionally in Holland and then tryout for the United States national team after the end of the 2016 Summer Olympics. She has put this option on the back burner for the time being.
Youtz is planning to intern at Dreyer’s Physical Therapy this summer where she hopes to return as a physical therapy assistant or possibly a nutritionist, but, she has also found a way to stay involved with the sport she loves.
She was offered a position as a co-owner and head coach for the Key State Field Hockey Club, her former club team where she played for five years.
“In high school, my club coach, I’ve said this plenty of times, she shaped who I am,” Youtz said. “I think that I wanted to go back and give back to that program.”
The former Key State Field Hockey Club player will use her experiences and journey as a teaching lesson for her players.
“I just want to constantly be there to remind them, you only get this opportunity to play so many times,” Youtz said. “You only get the recruiting process one time. So, for them to put everything they have in when those college coaches are watching, they don’t know how important those moments are and I think I’m there to keep reminding them to keep pushing them for every single game.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.