There are plenty of reasons why someone picks their school. The weather, the academics, that awesome five year program and much more. If you're involved with athletics of some sort, you know that choosing a school came with the decision of whether to go to a DI, DII, or DIII school. As a DIII school, you're still NCAA recognized, with a few extra perks.
1. Your Sport Schedule
Depending on where you go to school, your sport schedule is different. But, what seems to be similar throughout DIII schools is that the sport schedule is shorter than that of a DI program. This is because as a DIII NCAA sport, the coaches are only allowed to actually coach you for "x" number of weeks out of an academic year. As a crew athlete, my coaches are only allowed to actively coach for 19 weeks, so we split the time with nine weeks in the fall season and ten in the spring.
2. Winter Training = Not Necessary
This doesn't mean that you don't actively partake in these festivities. It means that if you are sick, or injured, or can't breathe out of your nose, or have an exam the next week, there's no punishment to you missing a few days of winter training. Of course, that's highly dependent on your coach, but those weeks off really help with academics.
3. Time Management
As a DIII athlete, you're probably taking on a lot of school work, along with real work, studying, extra-curriculars. You're doing it all. By going to a DIII school, you're in an environment that encourages you to explore what you love, and you're really given that time to do all that you want to do.
4. You're Really Committed
To be a DIII athlete, you have to be kind of crazy and very committed to the sport. You're getting no scholarship money (sorry, mom), and you're working just as hard as a DI athlete at times, with extraneous workouts. This means that you really care about your sport, even if it's not your top priority all the time. That's something that coaches respect, because you really are part of the team.
5. How Much did that Uniform Cost You?
Some schools, if you're on a team, require you to purchase certain gear to seem unified as a team at races or events. This is mainly evident in DI and DII teams, requiring the purchase of polos, khakis, jackets, long pants and long sleeve shirts, along with your uniform. At a DIII level, you have the option of purchasing all of this as well, but it's not required. Of course, there is the constant back-of-the-head voice telling the team to get them so you all match. But, who's to say a rag-tag looking group of athletes can't win also?
6. Food Choices
Yes, eating healthy is important. And yes, choosing the right foods all year long are important. But, you get a little bit of leeway as a DIII athlete. If you're really craving that burger, go for it. Want a second brownie? Who's stopping you? Yes, you do have to pay for it the next day at practice, but you're not really logging your weight or food choices every moment, which allows you a little more room to choose what you want (especially if one dining hall is having Meatless Mondays with no deserts, there is no shame in finding a different place to eat).
7. Team Bonding
On any team you're going to be on, there's going to be some form of team bonding. But, you get a little extra time to be real humans as a DIII athlete. Going out to dinner or studying with your teammates is a great way to bond, especially if you're in the same major. I've also noticed that I tend to do better when I've surrounded myself with my teammates because I know they're trying to get the same work done early before practice the next day.
8. NCAA Champs Don't Stop at the DI/DII Level
Contrary to popular belief, DIII athletes and DIII teams do get to participate in NCAA events. Of course, you're in the DIII division, but you're at the same event, fighting for the Championship title. It's very possible. On top of that, if you're in a sport like rowing (a good example of this), you race these DI teams at fall races, even if you don't normally compete against them. So, you could potentially be better than that DI boat, even if you don't see them again until next fall.
This isn't to say that DI/DII athletes aren't as special. It's just to say, hey, we at the DIII level are putting just as much into it as you are. There are definitely benefits to being at that higher athletic level, but if you're like me, why lose sleep over a few extra weeks of practice?
Lead Image Credit: RoidVisor