When it comes to college athletics, it seems as if people judge on one thing: the division. As an athlete at a division III College, nothing is more annoying than the look received after telling people you play for a DIII school. Division III athletes are so often overlooked and portrayed as not as competitive, talented, or hardworking as those athletes who play at the DI level.
When I first announced my decision to play soccer at my DIII university I was so excited, and I assumed others would be just as excited for me as well. As soon as they heard it was DIII though it was like they were uninterested and unimpressed. Most people said, “Oh, that will be nice, soccer won’t be too hard and time consuming so you can focus mainly on school.” I even had a high school teacher tell me students going to play DIII should not be recognized at all because it takes some of the attention away from the real athletes going to play DI. This seemed so unfair, I knew the program was competitive, had talented players, and that it was going to be a huge commitment, but others did not see it this way.
I began thinking maybe my commitment wasn’t a big deal and that DIII was going to be easier than I thought. As soon as I arrived on campus though, my worries were proven wrong. I noticed that all the sports on campus had fitness testing and practiced 2-3 times a day during the preseason, just like DI athletes were doing as well.
You didn’t pass fitness testing? Too bad, you didn’t play. The coaches and players were serious and competitive. You trained hard and you played hard, and if you weren’t exhausted at the end of it then you didn’t give your all. There was no putting up with excuses or taking shortcuts. Once games began you were getting up early, traveling, and going to bed late while also keeping up with schoolwork. DIII was not easy, the people who had told me otherwise were wrong.
Be proud that you are, or are going to be, a Division III athlete because it is a big deal. Never doubt or feel lesser about your decision just because other people think it is going to be easy. DIII athletes may not get the athletic scholarship, the free shoes and clothes, or any of the other cool gadgets the other players get, but that just means we are playing for one reason: our love of the game. Our motivation comes straight from the heart and drives us to be the best we can be even though we do not receive the credit we deserve.
When you step onto the field, the court, or dive into the pool make sure you are representing your DIII School with unfailing pride. You will get the pregame jitters, and the same rush of joy when you look into the stands and see your friends and family as everyone else does. Keep your head up when others doubt you and know that you have not only your own team behind you, but also the thousands of DIII athletes all over the world who know that it takes a lot more to be a DIII athlete than people think.
Anna's pride of DIII sports can also be found in the Cincinnati Enquirer.