By MATHIEU WETMORE
The annual NCAA Division III Week began Monday, April 6 and runs until Sunday, April 12. Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all those associated with NCAA Division III athletics to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics on student-athletes at the University of Mary Washington.
Four University of Mary Washington student athletes gave their opinions on why they chose to become Eagles, as well as Division III athletes.
Junior business major and varsity swimmer Matthew Garstka:
“I chose Division III because I felt it was the right level of intensity and commitment I was willing to put forward while trying to balance athletics with academics. I’ve loved the experience and couldn’t be happier with my coach and the relationships I’ve built while being here. But if I had not been looking to continue with swimming in college I may have gone to a school with broader options when it comes to majors. I’ve often felt limited here. If I were to talk to a senior, I would talk to them about being a big fish in a small pond or vice versa. This could weigh heavily into where they apply and the programs they look at.”
Leah Roth, a junior biology major and varsity soccer player, enrolled in the Premedical Program:
“I decided to play D3 because it was the perfect blend of continuing to play the sport I love and being able to have time to myself and focus on my studies. I love my decision because it let me go to a great academic school that led to many close relationships with my teammates and my professors because of the school’s size. I don’t regret anything about my decision. The advice I would give a senior in high school is making sure they figure out how much they want their college life to revolve around that sport. If they want a good mix, then Division III is the right decision, but if they want a lot of involvement in solely that sport then they should choose Division I.”
Junior business major Nick Eghtessad runs on the varsity track & field and cross country teams:
“I wanted to play D3 because at Division III schools the coaches give you more opportunities to be a student first and an athlete second. I’m a big fan of how close all the teams are to each other at this school and how my coach understands that I need to balance schoolwork with my practices. I would advise a senior in high school not to overlook Division III because they think there’s less competition, because there is still a high level of competition in Division III, which a lot of people don’t see unless they play Division III.”
Rory Grambo, a junior business major and varsity soccer player:
“I decided to play Division III because it gave me a chance to really matter right away—a chance to play immediately. I also didn’t want to commit all my time to soccer like I would in a Division I program; I wanted a life outside of sport. I love my decision because I did indeed matter right away; I was a starter for much of my freshman season and on. I also was able to have a great social life outside of soccer. I made and kept lots of friends that did not have any affiliation with the soccer team or UMW athletics. However, I regret it because I did not get the chance to represent myself at the highest possible level. I would advise a high school senior to evaluate their priorities as a person and in college. Make a pros and a cons list, and do as much research as possible. Then, and only then, make a firm, educated decision that you will be happy with.”