April 2 through 8 was Wellesley’s third annual Division III (D3) Week, which featured a variety of events and forums related to athletics on campus and beyond. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) introduced D3 Week nationally in 2010 to create a sense of community and distinct identity in the Division III athletics community, which is distinguished from Division I and Division II athletics by its focus on its athletes first and foremost as students. The NCAA encourages athletes to use D3 Week as a platform to also highlight why they participate in the division.
The conference encourages all schools with Division III athletic programs to organize outreach activities spanning athletic, academic and co-curricular interests over the course of the week. Each institution reports to the NCAA on its participation with the overarching goal of cultivating awareness and understanding of Division III athletics.
Here at Wellesley, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) held D3 Week with the intent of organizing programming focused on the celebration of student athletes on campus. The organization is part of a larger network of NCAA chapters and sought out partnerships with other campus organizations like Wellesley Fresh; El Table; Punch’s Alley; and Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics (PERA) to enhance the event’s visibility. This year’s events included a LeadBLUE event about preparing athletes for leadership beyond athletics, a student athlete forum, an athletics pub night and a softball doubleheader.
Mia Caglieris ’19, a member of both SAAC and the crew team, attended and helped coordinate events over the course of the week. Caglieris noted that her favorite event was the Blue Pride Night in Bates and Lulu because “There was a lot of Blue Pride and good food! It was really great to spread a shared sense of community in a common space such as the dining halls.”
While Blue Pride Night was one of the week’s more casual events, the student athlete forum on Wednesday touched on more serious issues involving student athletes at Wellesley. In light of campus wide conversations about student athletes during the first round of College Government (CG) Elections, the forum was intended as a place for meaningful discourse about the student athlete experience at Wellesley, facilitated by members of the athletic community. Caglieris observed that, “We should all as a community work to engage more with each other in order to understand our differences and bridge these gaps.”
Although the discussion was a good place to start, Caglieris believes that there is more progress to be made, noting that, “We have a lot to learn from one another as a community, and if we can strive to be open and effectively communicate and listen, then productive changes can occur.”
Events like D3 week highlight the athletics community on campus and bring attention to issues that are impacting this community. To highlight individual student-athletes, Wellesley Athletics featured a series of articles on their website about both current student-athletes and alumnae, showcasing the impact of athletics on students both during and after their time at Wellesley. Ultimately, the NCAA emphasizes that D3 week should be about integrating student-athletes into campus culture, something that involves a variety of campus actors, including the student body, alumnae and the administration.