Despite the Covid-19 pandemic sending students off campus and the cancelations of intercollegiate athletic seasons, the NCAA’s Division III week still took place from April 13-19 at NVU-Johnson, as well as many DIII institutions across the nation.
According to the NCAA website, DIII week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with DIII athletics to observe and celebrate the athletic input for students, coaches, and athletic administrators, as well as the surrounding community. “During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement.”
This past week isn’t just about celebrating athletes on the playing surface, according to Michele Whitmore, student-athlete advisory committee advisor.
“DIII Week is really about celebrating and recognizing the work of our student-athletes, especially at the DIII 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 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.”
Despite students being home and away from campus for DIII Week, they were still able to participate virtually in the event. During the week, social media posts were created, highlighting some of the things they liked about Johnson and DIII athletics, as well as favorite food places to stop on road trips and favorite artist/album/song they like listening to before a big game.
There was also a social media post created to highlight the athletes’ hometowns. While many athletes come from Vermont, it also showcased athletes that come from Oregon, California, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, just to name a few.
On top of the social media campaign, there were also virtual events that students participated in throughout the week. One event was a DIII Kahoot trivia, with questions about DIII, conference structure and the Johnson athletics program. Another event was the iMessage trivia tournament. Over the course of the week, 16 participants squared off in a march madness style tournament playing each other in numerous iMessage games, including cup pong, battleship, and pool.
In the championship game, softball player Mia Blackwell and women’s basketball/track and field player Devyn Thompson battled in mini golf for the DIII Week iMessage tournament championship. It was a tight battle, as their first game ended in a tie. To determine a winner, they played a second game, in which Blackwell edged Thompson to win the match and the tournament crown.