By Shawn McFarland
Each year, the NCAA selects a week to honor Division III sports. This week, from Apr. 3-9 is “DIII Week,” and it’s being celebrated at Springfield College.
D3 Week is a chance to celebrate and impact student-athletes on a college campus. 40% of all collegiate athletes reside at the Div. III level, and Springfield College is home to roughly 700 of the 190,000 student athletes playing at that level.
“We try to make it special here every day,” Springfield College director of athletics, Dr. Craig Poisson said. “Maybe this week there’s this little extra emphasis because its D3 Week.”
The past two semesters have been fruitful for Springfield College athletics, with a number of teams making noise in the playoffs, while a handful of individuals have seen success on the national level.
“We would welcome the opportunities to celebrate [D3 Week] at any time,” Poisson said. “But we’re gearing up to host a national [volleyball] championship – which by all indications we’re going to qualify for. The spring teams are starting to heat up now that the weather has started to cooperate. Nine teams have already been represented in postseason play, eight school records from winter programs – we’ll celebrate D3 Week any time of the year.”
Div. III athletics go hand-in-hand with the idea of a “student-athlete.” On the court, players fight for their chance at glory. But off the court, players are truly dedicated to their work in the classroom, and are often involved in student organizations in clubs.
For that reason, the 190,000-strong crowd of Div. III athletes deserves its recognition.
“I applaud the NCAA for putting the week in place, it’s something we ought to celebrate,” Poisson said.
Even past the athletes themselves, Springfield boasts something few institutes do – the teacher-coach dynamic. Coaches are tasked to mold young minds both on and off the field, adding to the importance of Div. III.
“When folks and groups get together to talk about ways to fix interscholastic collegiate athletics, they say to bring back the teacher-coach – it never left here,” Poisson said.
Springfield, geographically, is in the heart of New England, a region which is traditionally a powerhouse. Just in this winter season alone, Babson and Amherst College both brought home national championships in men’s and women’s basketball, respectively.
The Pride have more than held their own against some of the nation’s top Div. III talent that they neighbor.
“A lot of the competition in a lot of the sports is concentrated in the New England area,” Poisson said. “The NEWMAC has been very well-represented at these postseason championships, even dating back to the fall with two of our programs making the NCAA’s and a third winning ECAC’s. We’re proud and happy to be part of the NEWMAC, and the conference continues to get stronger.”