Student-athletes celebrate, reflect during Division III Week
Members of Washington University’s athletic community are taking part in Division III week this week, with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) promoting events highlighting Wash. U. student-athletes.
“DIII week celebrates Division III athletes and why some of these athletes chose to go DIII over some of their [Division I] offers,” SAAC spirit committee head Radha Vishnubhotla said. “It’s recognizing their want to have a good education along with their athletics. It’s reaching out to the community and bridging that gap between the student-athletes and the student body. That is the main goal of Division III week.”
Division III week was started in 2011 as part of an initiative taken by the NCAA to establish an identity for Division III teams. According to the NCAA, the goal of the initiative was to depict Division III as an avenue which “combines rigorous academics, competitive sports and an opportunity to pursue other interests.”
SAAC has been highlighting a few events that are going on this week. “We’ve been promoting the breakfast that’s in the [Athletics Complex],” Vishnubhotla said. “It’s being provided on the second floor from 7:30 to 9:30 to anyone who works out in the morning or ends morning practices. We went there this week, and we had free donuts and we were talking to people about what we have going on. We’re giving out sunglasses and coffee.”
In addition to physical events, SAAC has been using social media to promote awareness of the week.
“We have an Instagram following and on that we have videos about why DIII,” Vishnubhotla said. “We’re showcasing the personalities of these athletes, what they do on a daily basis and what their experience is like as an athlete at Wash. U.”
The week serves as an opportunity for students to reflect on the value of being a student-athlete.
“Being a student-athlete has impacted my time here because it automatically gave me a sense of community and people to look up to,” freshman track and field runner Caira Watson said. “It gave me people that I know no matter what will be there for more rather it be athletically, personally or academically.”
DIII sports are sometimes thought of as college sports-lite, despite the fact that athletes still sacrifice as much and work as hard as their DI and DII counterparts. According to sophomore Christian Henry, a wide receiver on the football team, there is no real offseason at this level of competition.
“You may stop playing games against other schools at some point during the year, but you’re engaging in different activities with your team essentially the whole school year,” Henry said. “[College sports] demand a higher level of commitment than high school sports and also force you to make some tough choices with how you spend and budget your time because you can’t do everything.”
Beyond this week, SAAC hopes that the greater Wash. U. community will continue to show support to athletic community in their endeavors.
“One thing we’ve been trying to do, not just this week, but the entire year, especially through SAAC, is to promote more spirit within the Wash. U. community,” Vishnubhotla said. “We’re one of the most successful sports programs in all of DIII. We’re wanting to showcase that, get the word out, and get the spirit up of the Wash. U. community as a whole. It’s not just about promoting the studentathletes. It’s about creating an atmosphere that the entire student body can rally behind. We can come together and be one community, not just athletes over here and students over there.”