D3 Week: Macalester's Anna Munson shares D3 experience

The MIAC is celebrating 2014 NCAA Division III Week, which runs April 7-13. The MIAC Media Blog is featuring a series of  posts throughout the week from MIAC staff and student-athletes as part of the celebration. Today, we're extremely pleased to welcome Macalester softball student-athlete Anna Munson as a guest blogger. Anna is a junior Psychology major from La Crosse, Wis., and she shares her outstanding perception of what it means to be a Division III student-athlete.

What does it mean to be a Division III student-athlete?

By Anna Munson, Macalester softball student-athlete

In recent weeks, Northwestern’s football team's attempt to unionize and other events have spurred many conversations and debates at Macalester about athletic privilege.  Most of the conversations start from non-athlete students who feel that student-athletes on campus have many perks including being allowed to skip class, have locker rooms, apparel and generally more privileges among staff and facilities.  In the back-and-forth debate between students about the life of an athlete at Macalester, an important question is ignored: "What does it actually mean to be Division III student-athlete?" 

As the phrase “student-athlete” suggests, being an athlete at Macalester and most (if not all) D-III schools means developing as a student first and an athlete second. It means that we take all the same classes with the same expectations and registration times as other students on campus. It means that we worked hard in high school to get into college and continue to work hard to ensure success later in life. We do not receive scholarships, we do not get personal tutors, we do not get assigned different homework or tests, and we certainly do not “get” to skip class because - as any student-athlete knows - missing class is simply more work later on. This is different than Division I and some Division II programs, and is often forgotten in the midst of media and stereotypes of athletes all over the country.

So, why be a D-III student-athlete?  What is it all about? I cannot speak for other students, but being a student-athlete at Macalester means that I get to play my favorite sport while receiving a phenomenal education.  It means that I get to spend a lot of time with people with similar interests just like the musicians, actors, government leaders, researchers, dancers, environmentalists, etc. do.  The best part? One community does not define me because I also get to be a researcher and organization leader on campus. I also get to plan school events and have internships around the Twin Cities. I get to be "Anna" first, and "Anna the softball player" second.

For me, being a D-III student-athlete means I’m given the opportunity to make life-long friends, stay in shape, be a part of a community and have fun playing competitive softball. It means that my teammates and I play softball because it is something we want to do, and love to do, not because we have to do it.  It means that I am willing to stay up a little later to finish homework, willing to be sore 50 percent of the time and willing to dedicate myself to a team.  Satisfaction comes from team solidarity (three claps, ladies?!) and accomplishing things as a player and a team that we have worked so hard for. It comes from making great friends and having a support system as I prepare for life after college.  These are the ultimate rewards, and the privileges that I have and value as a D-III student-athlete. We pay for our apparel, pay for our education and coordinate the locker rooms, gym space and weight room with the campus. These are not our privileges like in D-I and, even if they were, they are not the ones I would appreciate the most.

So to all D-III athletes out there: celebrate this week! It is your week to celebrate your team, your hard work and especially your successes outside of athletics. We only get to be college athletes once! Make the most of every moment.

MIAC Celebrates Division III Week
In addition to the MIAC blog series throughout the week, the conference and its members will celebrate 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.

The MIAC Media Podcast joined in the D-III Week celebration, as host Mike Gallagher delivered a very special episode on Tuesday. MIAC Assistant Director Megan Gaard joined the show to talk D-III Week in the MIAC, and Carleton Assistant Men's Basketball Coach Ryan Kershaw was also interviewed. Please give it a listen on the Podcast page or on iTunes! The podcast joins the MIAC Media blog series and videos on the MIAC YouTube channel, which are all linked or embedded on the MIAC's Division III Week home page!

Happy Division III Week, MIAC friends, and thanks to Anna for sharing her first-hand experience on what it means to be a Division III student-athlete. Her well-composed words are a perfect example of why Division III student-athletes deserve a week to be celebrated!

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