Reflecting back on the reasons why she has worked so hard to find jobs that she loved and where she could also be influential, Amber Daulbaugh pin-pointed a pair of life lessons she learned when she was young.
“Whenever I was competing or playing (sports), he was there,” Daulbaugh said of her late father, William. “But he would always be critical, ‘Well, you did good, but you could have done this, too.’
“With my mom it was, ‘You need to be good to people and treat them the way you want to be treated, because you know what it feels like to not be treated good.”
Molding that sage advice with her family position as the eldest sibling and grandchild, the new program director at the Fayette County Family YMCA has become a hard-worker or a leader at every job in her life.
And not all those stops were exactly ones to brag about.
“My first job? I cleaned toilets,” Daulbaugh said. “And my attitude was that those were going to be the cleanest toilets you could find in Delphos, Ohio.”
She’s done a bit better for herself since.
The 1996 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University (Berea, Ohio) played basketball for the Yellow Jackets while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in communications.
Daulbaugh continued her education with a concentration in sports administration at Kent State University (Kent, Ohio), earning her master’s degree in 1998.
“I took one class in sports administration,” Daulbaugh said. “I forget what course it was, but I really liked it, so I switched gears.”
Upon earning that degree, she said she figures she sent about 75 resumés to college across the United States, hoping to land a job as a women’s basketball coach.
Her breakthrough call came from a Baldwin-Wallace graduate at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and she became an assistant coach for the Division III Pioneers from 1998-2002.
Daulbaugh found her way to Illinois at the end of her tenure at UWP, when she became the head coach of Blackburn University’s women’s basketball and cross country teams through 2005.
At that stop, her recruiting skills were honed, which helps her greatly today when she promotes new programs at the YMCA or talks to groups about joining a Y program. She believes those skills first developed at Kent State while working in the new student orientation office.
“I learned real quick that you have to convince people to believe in something and get them on board,” Daulbaugh said.
With the YMCA, Daulbaugh has already helped to try to get people interested in something new, with a sand volleyball tournament scheduled in September and a general volleyball clinic in the fall.
And on the coaching side for the YMCA youth sports programs, she has found a resource that she believes will allow parents who have never coached a youth team quickly become better coaches.
“Our coaches will get more comfortable,” Daulbaugh said. “I can introduce that to them, and it might make their transition to being a coach more smooth.”
She has a flurry of other ideas, too, but she understands that “time is on my side,” so she isn’t trying to do so much at once that she overwhelms herself.
Youth development, healthy living and social responsibility are the three commitments of the YMCA, and Daulbaugh said that before putting any idea into motion, she thinks about how it fits that motto.
“That’s what I look to any time I have an idea,” she said. “Is it going to fulfill one of those three?”
Daulbaugh relocated to Vandalia in 2009, after serving as a head coach at Webster University for one season and working for the Special Olympics for three years in Highland.
Having had a career exclusively based on sports, Daulbaugh found herself substitute teaching at Vandalia Community High School, but that was a duty that, in the end, she said she “loved.”
She added JV girls basketball coach to her title for the 2010-11 season, but made the decision to join the YMCA on June 20, knowing that she could still have a direct effect on students.
“Every job I have had was sports-related or teaching-related,” Daulbaugh said. “When I first moved to Vandalia, there was talk of that huge sports facility, so I thought, ‘We’ll see if that comes to fruition.’
“I knew (the new YMCA building) was being built, but (then) I got into coaching basketball, which I never thought I would coach high school,” she said. “But that was a lot of fun. It was hard to leave them.”
Daulbaugh, however, may have found a position where she will stay long-term.
“I’ve done a lot of different things within the sports field,” she said. “I like it here, and as long as the board wants me here, I will help build the program side as best I can.
“There hasn’t been a time where I’ve said, ‘I don’t want to go to work.’”