In case you missed my last article, I’m Ellie Ramsey, a dual sport athlete here at the University of Redlands. This is one of many articles in a series where I dive into the world of balancing school, work study, and running both Cross Country in the Fall, and Track and Field in the Spring. Hence the name of my column, get it?
In today’s episode, I’m jumping into my thoughts on being a Division III athlete. For any non-athletes out there, being involved in DIII athletics means that the University of Redlands cannot offer financial aid scholarships based on athletic ability. Something I always say when people ask me about choosing to be a DIII athlete is that no one does their specific sport at this level unless they really, truly, love it.
I must say, DIII athletes don’t get nearly enough credit. We put in the same amount of hard work and effort, but most of that hard work goes unnoticed and unrecognized. There is no signing of letters of intent, or big stadiums packed with people to watch us, no ESPN coverage, or any chance of going pro. As you may have noticed, when you walk into the Ted Runner Stadium, it pales in comparison to the large stadiums of the big state schools. In my years of experience running Cross Country and Track at the University of Redlands, we rarely have more than 200 people come out to watch us do what we do best. Not to say I don’t understand- our races usually begin at 8:30am or 9:00am in the morning. For the big D1 running schools like the University of Oregon, large crowds of people always come out regardless of how early, to see athletes take the line and give it their all on the course. It would be nice if more of our student body came out to see their own shine on the track and course.
I’m not even going to get into the difference between D1 football and our boys in maroon and gray. If I were to talk about it, I would say that it’s ridiculous how D1 college football has become such a large spectacle, and is televised every Saturday during the season. If the Redlands football game isn’t at home, I’m lucky if I can even listen to a broadcast of the game through some link buried in the depths of the SCIAC website.
I could sit here and throw a pity-party about not getting the attention we deserve, but hey, I actually really love being a DIII athlete. Sure, it would be nice if I didn’t have to worry so much about finances, and I had the cushion of an athletic scholarship. It would also be nice to have tutors provided specifically for our sports teams like they do for DI. There is more time in general for us DIII athletes to focus on our studies, which I guess eliminates the need for tutors. At the University of Redlands, there is an emphasis on being a student-athlete. We are students first and athletes second. Even if my race results won’t be talked about in the news, it’s important that I know I’m getting a quality education while living out my passions as an athlete.
My roommate Mandy Widen is a pole vaulter for the track team. Mandy has also won SCIAC Champs in her event multiple times, so I asked her why she likes being a DII athlete. She explained that it helps her focus more on her schoolwork. If she were to be at a D1 school she would have to devote all her time to the sport, which I think is true.
I honestly can say that I love running at a collegiate level. My team is everything to me and they support me on and off the course/track. I know a couple of people who have ended up going to D1 schools for track and field and both of them only lasted two years on the team because they eventually grew to hate it. The pressure of being at that level of competition was too much and they lost the passion they once had for competing.
That’s not to say that DIII athletes don’t quit. There are plenty of people who end up quitting because they couldn’t handle the balancing act required of them, which is okay. DIII is an incredible time commitment, and many people have quit the Cross Country or Track team because they realized it was not what they wanted to focus their time and energy. This further proves my point that you have to have a true love for the sport in order to continue it and be able to look back at your college career with fond memories. I hope that whether or not you play a sport in college that you do what you love, and love what you do. I also hope you enjoyed reading this and have been re-racking your weights. If you don’t understand that last part means you should probably go and read the first article of my riveting series, or don’t, I won’t know either way.
all photos contributed by the author, Ellie Ramsey, and Redlands Bulldog photo editor, Halie West