Division (D) III week was underway from April 1 – 7. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) started the week as a celebration and recognition of an often misinterpreted Division within the Association. The goal of the week-long event is to involve the athletes participating in the D III level to promote and publicize the level at which they play.
DI is often seen as the highest and most competitive Division within the NCAA, while DII and DIII are often brushed off as less competitive than DI athletics. The program started in 2010 as a part of the NCAA Identity Initiative, which was aimed to give an identity to the DIII. The initiative since then has been a yearly event, with feedback from each year being used to improve the following year. The NCAA also promotes the event to the general student body in an effort to include a wider array of students within a college or university.
Whittier College took the opportunity to shed light on the athletes that play with purple and gold on their backs during DIII Week. A common reason why athletes choose to be a part of DIII schools is for the program’s emphasis on education first. The schedules of DI athletes involve lots of interstate traveling, leaving little room for the books. Third-year Defensive Midfielder Miguel Alvarez-Castaneda plays for the Men’s Soccer Team and is just one of many who call Whittier home. “I chose Whittier because it was close to home and provided an opportunity to have smaller classes and a more hands-on learning experience,” said Alvarez-Castaneda. Of course, being involved in the collegiate sport experience demands a balance of both academics and physical activity. Alvarez-Castaneda knows this very well. “I balance school and work with time management skills that took me a while to get the hang of, but, once [I] learned to get earlier classes [so that I could] work nights, it made my life a [lot] easier.” This is a common story for athletes in DIII who not only have to balance a job, but also the sport and their undergraduate education. Whether they are working part-time or pursuing a challenging major, the athletes in DIII surely have many responsibilities on top of being students.