Amber Dempster is accustomed to greatness on the pitch. The Belfast, Ireland native has been on multiple championship winning soccer teams throughout her career and recently crossed the pond to continue plying her trade for the Franklin Pierce Ravens.
Dempster started out playing the game when she was just four years old and was instantly captured by it.
“I didn’t understand the rules of the game,” she said of first strapping on her cleats. “I used to score in one goal, pick the ball up and go and score in the other goal. I just loved to run with the ball despite which goal the ball was going in.”
Over the next three years she learned the intricacies of the game and at seven, Dempster joined the Bryanburn Rangers boys team and played there until she joined the Northland Raiders girls team at 12 years old. That year she was selected for the County Excellence Programme and the Northern Ireland U13 Development Squad. Then came the U15, U17 and U19 Northern Ireland teams and she signed with a new club team, the Linfield Ladies.
“In my time at Linfield Ladies we have won many cups, including the Irish Cup, and we just recently finished second in the league by one point,” Dempster said. “I ended my career at home in Northern Ireland by being captain of my university squad, University of Ulster, and leading them to become All Ireland Champions.”
Dempster’s playing prowess has led her all over the world. While playing on the U17 Northern Ireland team, she traveled to Austria — her favorite destination — and drew 1-1 against their National Team. Then came the European Championships in Bulgaria. The day Dempster was selected for the team, though, she tore ligaments in her ankle.
After rehabbing, she was able to join the team in the Czech Republic for 10 days in the Euro Championships.
“It was a tough 10 days, but it was a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. “I found acclimating to the heat the most difficult as it was extremely hot even though the competition was in September. We got beat 4-2 by Czech Republic, drew 1-1 with Turkey and beat Romania 3-2. Unfortunately we did not qualify to the next stage of the tournament.”
While attending the University of Ulster in her home country, Dempster had the chance to travel abroad once again — this time to the United States. During her undergraduate program, she visited Massachusetts to coach for Global Premier Soccer.
“The experience was amazing and it definitely played a large part of my return to the US,” Dempster said. “I wanted to stay close to Massachusetts as I have family and friends there and Franklin Pierce has an excellent academic and athletic history.”
Dempster also had a close friend from Ireland that attended the school and highly recommended it.
“I already knew assistant coach Alex Macpherson and I knew he was a fantastic coach,” she said. “This, mixed alongside the success of coach Bailey, sealed the deal for me attending FPU.”
While she is enjoying her time in the states, competing for the Ravens, Dempster is still getting used to the American style of play while simultaneously learning the culture and getting to know a new group of teammates and classmates.
“I have enjoyed meeting my new team mates, especially those from different cultures other than American,” she said. “We have players from Japan, Brazil, Germany and Turkey on the roster so it has been interesting to learn more about their culture.”
So far this season, the mix of players has set the Ravens on fire, winning their first three games of the season by a combined score of 10-0. The squad suffered its first setback on Wednesday, falling to Stonehill 2-1. Next up for Franklin Pierce is Merrimack on Tuesday at home.
“We have such a strong roster with incredible depth on the bench,” Dempster said. “Every player can come on and instantly impact the game in a positive way.”