Amber Larsen was a four-year letterwinner in track and field (1998-2001) and also lettered twice in cross country (1997-98). She holds school records in the 400-meter dash and 400 hurdles and was as a two-time Northwest Conference champion in both events. She is best remembered for winning the 2001 NCAA Division III championship in the 400 hurdles, becoming the first woman from Linfield to claim an individual NCAA crown. After graduation, she served as an assistant track coach at Idaho, Illinois and Wake Forest universities.
What are you involved with currently?
I am currently working in the Athletic Department at High Point University in North Carolina. In addition to coaching the jumpers and multi-event athletes on the track and field team, I also work as an assistant in Athletics Compliance and Academics.
How is Linfield benefiting you today?
Linfield definitely prepared me well for my roles in coaching and athletics administration. Obviously my experiences as a collegiate athlete help tremendously in my line of work. I was also a Health Education major and use the stuff I learned in my Health and Education classes all the time. I was fortunate to have tremendous coaches while I was at Linfield, and if it hadn't been for that, I probably wouldn't have chosen a career in collegiate athletics. So many other things that I learned at Linfield help me do my job well: time management and organizational skills, the opportunity to interact with so many different kinds of people in different situations, the list could go on and on!
What were some of the influences that went into shaping you into a successful student-athlete?
First of all, I had coaches who saw potential in me that I didn't even know was there and they made it very clear that they believed in me. Secondly, hard work and really believing in myself. Third, my willingness to take a few risks and go outside of my comfort zone. Lastly, supportive friends and family and great competition (my younger sister was at PLU during my senior year and we competed in the same events. She was my best competition and really pushed me at the meets we had together).
What makes competing at the NCAA Division III level unique and special?
I've coached at several Division I programs and have enjoyed my experience at each one, but I wouldn't trade my Division III experience for anything. As a Division III athlete, I was able to experience so much more than just a great athletic experience. The classes that I could and wanted to take were never limited because I was an athlete or because of my practice schedule. I enjoyed the opportunity to study abroad. On top of getting to do all those extras, I had a great track and field family (coaches and teammates) that I was a part of.
What are your fondest memories of competing in athletics at Linfield?
Winning the 400 hurdles at the NCAA championships my senior year is definitely up there. My sister was All-American that year as well in the 400 hurdles, so it was fun to be up on the podium together. Right after getting my award, the coaches and I rushed to the airport so that we could make it back to Oregon for graduation. It was a pretty busy weekend!