Being an athlete at any level takes an immense amount of skill, determination, and physical work. There are perks to being an athlete on any campus regardless of the size, but of the three NCAA divisions, there is one that tends to be underappreciated. Yes, you guessed it- I’m talking about Division III athletes. I know because I am one. Hi, I am a Division III athlete, and I am a badass.
No, extravagant recruiting trips and coaches typically aren’t making personal house calls to woo us to their school. Rather, we make an effort to reach out and meet with coaches. We choose a program that we believe will best fit us academically, socially and athletically.
There are no letters of intent to sign to announce our big commitments (even though choosing where to further our education is just as important). Our family and friends do not gather in a meeting room at our high school for our big reveal, but rather post a picture on Instagram or Facebook to announce our big news.
Our facilities aren’t top of the line by any stretch of the imagination. Our stadiums don’t seat thousands of screaming fans with painted chests and faces, but smaller cozy environments that make us feel at home. There are no airplanes for our mediocre away games, but rather, hour-long bus rides, with only one bathroom. Sports Illustrated is not writing big articles about us, and Erin Andrews sure as heck doesn’t wait to talk to us after competitions. We do not play in big bowl games, nor have televised national championship tournaments. But we are Division III athletes, and we are badasses.
We Chose This Lifestyle
People have said to me before, “Too bad that you don’t play Division I.” Too Bad? Too bad what? Okay, so I don’t get video cameras and free sneakers at bowl games. But I do get to play the sport that I fell in love with as a child. I chose this lifestyle.
Some people play sports because they can get a free ride to an education. Most of us, Division III athletes, will be in debt for years to come after our college careers come to a close. Again I say, we chose this. How easy would it be to decide not to be an athlete on campus and just focus on school? The truth is we are so passionate that we want to try and balance school and athletics, with no real scholarship motivation. We get up every day and go to practice in the rain, wind, and snow. We travel for hours and miss classes and opportunities to study.
No, we don’t have a huge chunk of change encouraging us to attend 6:00 am weight lifting sessions, we simply have the burning desire to improve our game. We are students, just like Division I or Division II athletes. We put in the same amount of work in the classroom while being athletes, which is not easy. As Division III athletes we celebrate our accomplishments and suffer through our defeats.
Sure, everyone has a dream to play at a high level. I don’t regret my decision to play at this level. I have played with and against some incredibly dedicated and powerful athletes. We don’t lack talent, and we aren’t inferior athletes. We are determined, and we put 100% into every practice, just like Division I athletes. We play sports for the absolute love of the game.
My fellow Division III athletes, despite the decreased perks and lack of exposure, know that I salute you, because we are badasses, and we are in this together.
– Maggie Tabone Utica College Basketball
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