The average person is most familiar with NCAA Division I athletics. When a high school student has a desire to play sports in college, most dream of getting an athletic scholarship. NCAA Division III members offer students a chance to continue their athletic career, but for the love of the game. There are no athletic scholarships. There are few opportunities to compete on tv and even fewer go on to play professionally.
I thought about trying to walk on at a NCAA Division I institution. I met with the coach and he could obviously care less. I had two DIII coaches calling me, showing much more interest. At first I thought I could go DI and just not play. That didn’t last long. I knew I wanted to keep playing soccer. One of the reasons I chose Methodist was to have an opportunity to compete for an NCAA Championship. The women’s soccer team had advanced to the national championship game just five years earlier and I thought certainly we could do the same during my Monarch career. I don’t think I truly understood what it would take to get there and I know I missed out on opportunities based on my own naivete and laziness.
Too many of us take it (playing college sports) for granted. It’s hard not to. You grow up playing a sport since you were a kid and it becomes all you know and you think it will always be there. When you go to college and play a sport, that sport becomes one of the few constants remaining in your life. Soccer had been loyal to me and my experience playing for Bobby Graham with some amazing teammates kept me sane even when everything was completely crazy around me.
Often we complain about the early practices, fitness sessions and unrealistic expectations of our coaches while we wish we were elsewhere. I was in such a hurry to get to the next thing, to survive another season that I almost forgot to enjoy it. It wasn’t until my senior year that I began to grasp the experience. It sounds so cliché, but I really encourage every student-athlete I meet to treat every work out, practice and game like it’s your last.
After working at Methodist, I think I look at my college career in a whole new way. While I was ostensibly paid for administrative things like recording statistics, writing press releases and updating the web site, my passion for the job lies in watching student-athletes succeed. Each August I met hundreds of freshmen anxious, and probably a little nervous to become a college student-athlete. I had the opportunity to see many of their victories and defeats during their careers and I loved watching them grow not only as athletes, but as people.
I’m sure you get some of the same growth experiences at many DI and DII institutions, but I wouldn’t trade my DIII experience for the world. I love soccer and I couldn’t imagine not continuing my career, but I had an opportunity to do so many other things while I pursued a college degree and played soccer. I am so grateful for my journey at DIvision III.