No Time to Rest for Windsor Grad
The Green Mountain College women's basketball team includes former Windsor player Amber Heath, front row, second from left.
Green Mountain College Sports Information
Former Windsor High athlete Amber Heath with the Green Mountain College women's soccer team. (Green Mountain College sports information)
The only reason Amber Heath didn’t play softball at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., this spring was that the Eagles discontinued the sport. That’s about what it takes to keep the junior out of active competition.
This summer, the Windsor High graduate is playing in two recreational softball leagues in Lebanon, is about to start competing in a recreational basketball league and will soon leave for a 10-day tour of Costa Rica with a group of fellow college hoopsters. Oh, and she’s working 40 hours a week on a local factory production line to pay for school.
“My parents tell me that I’m running all the time and that I should slow down,” she said with a laugh.
Fat chance of that. Heath, who played field hockey, basketball and softball at Windsor High, has played soccer, basketball and softball at Green Mountain, in addition to working a student job in the registrar’s office and serving as a resident advisor in a dorm. She boasts a 3.41 grade-point average as an early education major and hopes to teach elementary school after graduation.
“I want to get to know not just my sports teammates but the rest of my college,” she said. “When I have an off night, I feel like I need to find something to do.”
Heath initially attended Castleton State, where the Spartans won often, but where she participated only in preseason drills with the basketball team. So she transferred to Green Mountain, where the Eagles’ program had fallen into disarray. GMC was 17-7 during the 2007-08 season, but was 1-21 last winter and is a combined 10-62 the last four seasons.
Heath started all 18 games in which she played last winter, missing several contests because she suffered two concussions related to her all-out playing style. The guard averaged 9.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game and was third on the team in average minutes played at 33.9. GMC began the campaign with nine healthy players but dropped as low as five at some points.
“This year was a little bit of a struggle but I became a better basketball player,” said Heath, who played on back-to-back state championship basketball teams at Windsor. “It was hard losing a lot of games and trying to keep your head up, but I just remind my team there’s people who would die to play a minute of a basketball game.
“I look at (college sports) as a chance to play four more years. If I leave it all on the court, there’s nothing more I can do and it’s not worth getting mad about it.”
First-year Eagles coach Camille Murphy used Heath all over the floor, even in the post, and usually assigned her to guard the opponents’ best offensive player. A former WNBA player, Murphy said she’s struggled to get full effort and commitment out of some of the players she inherited, but No. 32 certainly isn’t one of them.
“I admire the will and the drive she has, and she doesn’t really look at the wins and losses,” Murphy said. “She’s always asking if she can shoot or work on her ball-handling after practice, and she watches film. She definitely makes the effort to get better and I wish I had more like her.”
Last fall, Heath was talked into playing soccer by one of her basketball teammates who was also on the soccer team. Although she had never played the sport before, Heath played goalkeeper and started all 14 games in which she played on a 5-11 team. During the spring of 2013, she played on GMC’s 0-28 softball team, appearing in all but two contests. She batted .152 and was 0-14 as a pitcher, with a 16.82 ERA and a .909 fielding percentage.
“She definitely loves sports and loves the camaraderie,” Murphy said. “She’s a tough kid. You can get pretty depressed when you lose that often, but she understands that every day you get up is a good day, even if you struggle.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.