B LEXI LOBDELL ’20
The Mount Holyoke athletics department, in conjunction with schools across the country, sponsored the National Division III (D3) Week from April 3-April 7, to recognize the hard work and experiences of student athletes. The week kicked off on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Kendall in the field house. Athletes from every sport came together and celebrated with free t-shirts, tye-dye, games and snacks.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has three Divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III. Division I athletics are highly competitive, and athletes are eligible for athletic scholarships to attend the collegiate institution. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, further stressing the importance of academics, yet athletes continue to compete at a high level. According to the NCAA, “Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student athletes on the campus and surrounding community.”
At Mount Holyoke, “DIII week is a time to celebrate student athletes’ role as both a student and as an athlete,” said Summer Hutcheson, associate director of Athletics. “I think we pride ourselves in Division III on having some balance compared to the other two divisions. [Student athletes] can really focus on everything they want to get out of their college experience, so this week celebrates that.”
Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and field hockey captain Colby Newsham ’19 added, “For me as a student-athlete, I feel that Division III often gets overlooked. Division III students have to try really hard to balance academics and athletics, but that doesn’t mean that athletics are less important to us,” Newsham said. “So I think having a week where we can celebrate each other and all that we give to athletics, as well as academics is really important and makes sure the athletes feel appreciated for all the work that we put in. I think it’s really important for morale and to celebrate and have some fun.”
Throughout the week, SAAC hosted a number of events to celebrate athletics. It began with a kick-off event on Monday and tabling in Blanchard to encourage all Mount Holyoke students to interactively celebrate athletics. This included button-making sponsored by the athletics department and a social media campaign called, “Why DIII, why MHC?” Athletes wrote why they chose Mount Holyoke athletics on white boards that were featured on social media. The campaign highlighted why student-athletes chose a DIII athletics program and why Mount Holyoke was a good fit for them.
Hutcheson elaborated on the importance of getting the entire community involved, and giving athletes a platform beyond their sport, “[On Monday]we had the DIII kick off event, which is really about bringing people together,” said Hutcheson. “We are trying to incorporate BOOM and make sure that we are allowing other people to come and be part of what we do and play some games and just interact and intersect with athletes, but also giving the athletes an opportunity to kind of think about who they are beyond their athletics. Because so often they are identified as athletes and people forget that they are much more than that.”
Athletics also hosted Game of the Week for Tennis on Tuesday, April 3. “[At] Game of the Week, we try to get as many student-athletes and other members of the Mount Holyoke community to come and support our teams,” said Newsham. “The rest of the week we are going to have a big social media campaign about why we play Division III and why we love Mount Holyoke and posting little bios about why we are student athletes and trying to get our student athletes more visible on campus.”
Division Three Week concludes April 7. Lacrosse, Tennis, Riding and Rowing will compete on that day.