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VOICES FROM THE CROWD: Division III sports give athletes an opportunity

We have all heard those success stories of pro athletes that have been playing sports from the time they could walk. For example, Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton started his journey to the Olympics at just age four.  This is a similar story for many suburban Americans, but not for everyone.  

Sometimes, sports are not easily accessible or easily funded.  Children from rural areas or low income families may not be enrolled in athletics at a young age, but that does not mean that they will be excluded forever. 

College presents a unique opportunity to all students in regards to organized sports.  Participating in athletics at college does not present the same roadblocks.  For one, athletics are centered on campus so all students have access to practices and athletic facilities.  The Scot Center at The College of Wooster is intended to be accessible to every student every day.  This resolves the issue to students from rural areas that are not in close proximity to sports clubs.  Also, the expenses typically associated with club sports are not a factor when it comes to college athletics.  Club soccer fees can reach upwards of $5,000, which would be a hard hit on anybody’s wallet, let alone a typical college student.  Thankfully, these types of fees will not appear on anyone’s tuition bill at college.  

Intramural and club sports are free for anyone to participate in regardless of prior experience and skill level.  The College offers many levels of teams so everyone can find their fit.  Because of this, roughly 70 percent of students at The College of Wooster participate in sports of some kind.  The College of Wooster also offers a wider range of teams than many high schools especially those in rural areas.  College may be the first time someone is exposed to his or her dream sport.  Club sports like rugby, ultimate frisbee and quidditch are great examples of this.  

Division III varsity sports at The College of Wooster offer a unique experience as well. Since Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, these teams are filled with a variety of athletes ranging from students that have been doing sports their entire lives and are on the top level, to students who are still relatively new to the sport.  Division III sports take the pressure off the athlete to maintain scholarship eligibility and rather emphasize hard work and progress instead.  

Division III colleges like The College of Wooster give students the option to continue participating in sports when they may not have had the opportunity otherwise.  I personally know many students that had to give up the sports they love just because they went to large Division-I schools like Ohio State or Michigan State. Often times, students will chose to go to a large state school because it is a smart move financially.  However, most of these schools are Division-I and the options to participate in athletics, especially at the varsity level, are limited.  For example, roughly 30 percent of Wooster students participate in varsity athletics, whereas only 2.3 percent of Ohio State University students participate.

Varsity teams at state schools are typically populated by highly recruited athletes that stood out on their high school teams.  Division III, on the other hand, allows for this type of student athlete to thrive as well as giving the opportunity to other athletes that may not have been recruited during high school.  

Georgia Hopps-Weber, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at GHopps-Weber21@wooster.edu.

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