Annual D3 week hampered by bad weather

Every year, there is a week to promote and recognize Division III student-athletes called D3 Week. This year, it took place on the campus of NVU-Johnson from April 15-19 with tabling events, social media awareness, pickup volleyball, and capture the flag.

D3 Week is a national event for all the Division III schools in the United States. According to the NCAA website, it was started in 2010 in part with the Division III Identity Initiative. Its goal is to “sharpen the division’s identity and to enable schools and conferences to more effectively explain why they prefer to compete in Division III. The initiative has been guided by a strategic-positioning platform, describing Division III as a place where student-athletes can ‘follow your passions and develop your potential,’ within an approach that combines rigorous academics, competitive sports and an opportunity to pursue other interests.”

Heading the week was Student Athletic Advisory Committee President Kaitlin Boucher and Advisor Michele Whitmore. Whitmore believes that this week isn’t just about recognizing student-athletes on the playing surface.

“D3 Week is really about celebrating and recognizing the work of our student-athletes, especially at the D3 level where our student-athletes are more than just a member of a team,” she said. “They are an impactful member of our community, they take their time outside of their sport and studies to contribute to community service that takes place on and off this campus, over 800 hours of community service in a year. That’s really impressive for a campus that consists of 120 student-athletes. That in of itself is worth celebrating. We also have student-athletes that are dual majors, and a majority of the student-athletes are averaging over a 3.0 GPA.”

Their goal was to make it more engaging to the community, but ran into issues with the weather.
“The weather has definitely impacted this year and so, while we had events that we were proud and excited to offer, we had to make modifications to almost every single one,” Whitmore said. “This week specifically, we only had one day of sun, and most of our events that we wanted to do, we had to put inside or we changed it to another date and time. The weather certainly does impact the success of D3 Week, especially being in the New England region. We will look at that for next year’s D3 week so that we are able to come up with a stronger plan B to put that in place if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.”
Another issue organizers ran into this year and years prior is that D3 Week is sponsored by the NCAA during the week that NVU-Johnson is on break. They usually plan for it to be a week before, but they had seen students leave early for break and not participate in the events. This year, they decided to move it back to the week after break, and saw improvements in participation but are still unable to celebrate it with other universities in the nation.

An important part of D3 Week is the advertising of events and student-athlete spotlights. They asked student-athletes to describe why they chose to play Division III athletics and posted those remarks on social media. Boucher thinks they could have done better with advertising so that more people could have been able to participate.

Boucher hopes that D3 Week continues to be an annual event on campus.

“I hope D3 Week starts to really blow up on campuses and Johnson continues with the it,” she said. “I hope there are more eventful weeks and I would like to see more student-athlete participation; maybe voicing out to students beforehand to see what they would like to do during the week would get more participation. Other than that, you can’t really do much with things are being changed around.”
With the ups and downs of this year’s D3 Week, Whitmore wants to be able to plan for anything so that it is an eventful week for the campus.

“I think we need to be honest with ourselves about how this week went with what were the highlights and what were the challenges,” she said. “Hopefully with the highlights, we can continue to build on those, and for the challenges, what’s the alternative? We wanted it to be really interactive and engaging, and so our hope was to be outdoors. We really need to put together just as active and engaging plan B. I would like this week to be the springboard to greater and more full D3 Weeks in the future. The other part of this is to start the planning and the work earlier. We know when the week is every year, and we should start talking about it in the fall and really have our plans in place before March. Hopefully with that we can have more participation and awareness. We need to have more awareness, and we need to do more than just posters. We need to expand our social media and have our students talking about it to their peers.”