Growing up everyone tells you that they are going to be a Division I athlete. Even I thought I was going to play Division I basketball, then have a stellar career with the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and then once I finished up what would sure be a marvelous career, I would be the first female Major League Baseball player, and play for none other than the New York Yankees. So realistic right? A girl can dream. As the season has just started this past weekend, I took some time to reflect and analyze what being a Division III athlete really means.
Why is it a true balancing act you may ask? Well…let me paint a picture for you.
For starters, division III athletes are not granted academic scholarships like the division II and division I athletes. This often times means student-athletes have to find jobs on campus to help foot the bill for school. So on-top of attending classes AND practices, they also work a job a few times a week to make a little extra cash because college ain’t cheap ya know!
We are not famous. Breanna Stewart (UConn women’s basketball), Christian McCaffery (Stanford Football), Trevor Cooney (Syracuse men’s basketball) are all former or current college athletes that are household names in their sports. If these individuals do not make it to the professional level, which some don’t, their background and stature can help land them jobs. (Notice I said help, not a guarantee) For us athletes playing on a much smaller scale, we have to make sure we have to participate in other things to build our resume. This means joining clubs and activities, volunteering on campus and creating relationships with our professors. These are other things to throw on top of school, studying, practice and working. I find it important to be well-rounded, so I don’t just participate in athletic activities, I also write (obviously) and am involved in student government to shake things up a bit.
Division I teams often bring tutors on away trips to help the student-athletes with homework and other assignments. For those of us on a much smaller level, we often have to seek out our own tutoring and extra help opportunities. Sometimes this is extremely difficult when the professor only has office hours during practice or at 7am. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little extra sleep for a good grade!
I know being a division I athlete is very demanding. I appreciate being able to have summers off and participating in many non-athletic activities on campus, so I can eventually become a well versed job candidate. I am just here to point out, that being a Division III athlete is no walk in the park. We work hard in the gym but we also must focus on balancing and maintaining other activities as well. That’s why I believe being a Division III athlete is a true balancing act!