This past week was not only inauguration week for our university’s president, Michael Frandsen, but it was also a big week for athletics because it was Division III Week. Though, when students and athletes were asked what Division III week is, the answers were a range of things.
Elissa Manchester, ’20, said: “I’m not really sure, I think it’s to celebrate being in Division III.” while other students had no answer or were unsure.
Each year, Division III Week occurs in April, this year falling from April 2-8. According to the NCAA, this week is a time that universities within Division III are encouraged to “observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community.” The schools and teams within Division III are motivated to put on an activity that can be placed into one or all three of the following categories: leadership/community service/campus involvement; athletic experience; or academic accomplishment.
The observance of this week began in 2010 as a part of the NCAA’s “Identity Initiative,” meaning that the week was created to explain why athletes chose to compete in Division III rather than Division I or Division II. The initiative has been working towards the view of “Division III as a place where student-athletes can ‘follow your passions and develop your potential.’”
The goal of Division III Week is to build awareness of Division III athletics. All students on each Division III (college) campus are encouraged to participate; not just athletes. The activity that a school does is reported to the NCAA so that they can share the activity with all Division III schools.
There was also a competition held throughout the week, challenging Division III schools to create a 60 second video that captures how their campus celebrates being a Division III school. The winning college will be awarded $500 that will be put towards athletics. The winning video will also be shown at the June conference for the College Sports Information Directors of America and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
On Monday, Witt’s Athletic Department and SAAC kicked off Division III and inauguration week by putting on a pep rally in the Student Center. All of the athletic teams were present and participated in different activities, having an opportunity to spend time with Frandsen. The entirety of the staff and student body were urged to participate, and the event solicited a relatively large crowd. At the end of the night, Frandsen gave a speech and spoke about the amazing things Witt students have been doing on the fields, in classrooms and in the theater, which is why many students choose Division III.
Senior softball player, Abby Haab, told the athletic department: “I chose Division III because I have been able to have leadership roles and join different organizations while still playing a sport that I grew up with and love. I have been able to have the full college experience without having to give up something important to me, which is something I will always be grateful for.”
Division III universities are places that athletes are more than athletes, they are scholars, researchers, writers, actors and community members.
So, why did you choose Division III?