D3 Week: Dan's D3 Experience

The MIAC is celebrating 2014 NCAA Division III Week, which runs April 7-13. The MIAC Media Blog will feature a series of blog posts throughout the week from MIAC staff and student-athletes as part of the celebration. Today, MIAC Executive Director Dan McKane shares his various Division III experiences.

Former Division III student-athlete and coach, current administrator and biggest fan

By Dan McKane

During the 2014 Division III Week celebration, I pause to reflect on what Division III participation means to me.  I am not only a former Division III student-athlete and coach, and a current administrator, but I am also a huge fan of everything that Division III stands for.  I have a passion for the opportunities that Division III allows for student-athletes when it comes to academic focus, balance of life and involvement throughout the entire campus, in addition to the opportunity to play competitively in college.

I competed on the men's soccer team at Gustavus Adolphus College in the early 1990s. My involvement in collegiate athletics left such a huge impression on my life. I still remember every pre-season training camp, individuals coming together as a team with excitement, commitment, hard work, and perseverance. I loved the challenges that soccer provided me, but I also had to work hard to be successful in the classroom. My coach, Larry Zelenz, stressed excellence not only on the soccer field, but also in the classroom.

As I look back, I remember the successes and my teammates. The guys worked hard towards common goals that we established. We had fun, but always strived to be the best in each practice and contest. The hard work paid off, most notably winning a MIAC Championship.

I transitioned into coaching upon graduation to remain close to the sport I loved. It offered me an opportunity to study the game from a coaching and business perspective. I served as the men's assistant coach for three years at Gustavus. My favorite part of coaching was getting to know my student-athletes. These guys left a lasting impression on me. They bought into the system, worked tirelessly to achieve our goals, and also were committed to their academics and graduating in four years.  I still remain in touch with several of the student-athletes. They now have great careers and families, and we will always have our fond memories of Division III participation.

On my wall in my office is a fantastic reminder of the value of participating in Division III athletics. As we celebrate Division III Week, I feel it is important to reflect on this poem titled, "Why We Compete in Division III Athletics."

Why we compete in Division III Athletics
By Sean Sornsin, former Cornell College (Iowa) baseball student-athlete
First appeared in The Cornellian on December 3, 1999.

"It's not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making SportsCenter. It's a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our calculus class that we don't even know.

We don't practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future sports agent. We don't lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don't run with a future Wimbledon champion; we run with a future CEO.

It's a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes 25. But we still play hard. You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don't sign autographs. But we do sign graduate school applications, MCAT exams, and student body petitions.

When we miss a kick or strike out, we don't let down an entire state. We only let down our teammates, coaches, and fans. But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, lift, throw, run, kick, tackle, shoot, dribble, and lift some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students.

It's about pride--in ourselves, in our school. It's about our love and passion for the game. And when it's over, when we walk off that court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim... college athletes."

MIAC Celebrates Division III Week
In addition to the MIAC blog series throughout the week, the conference and its members are celebrating 2014 NCAA Division III Week in a number of ways. To track all the action throughout the week, visit the MIAC's Division III Week Home Page.

If you are a MIAC student-athlete and would like to contribute a guest blog, or you'd like to let us know about a Division III Week celebration or event on your campus, email MIAC Assistant Director Megan Gaard at: mgaard@miacathletics.com.

Happy Division III Week, MIAC friends! Check the blog and the page throughout the week as we continue to celebrate our membership in Division III!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment or a question! (All are subject to moderation)