Playing five years of my favorite sport at the Division III level was the greatest decision I ever made. I owe that to all the ever– changing possibilities here at Cabrini University.
I have been playing soccer since I was two-and-a-half years old, so just about 21 years of my life has been dedicated to this amazing sport. When it came time to leave home and attend college I knew soccer had to come packing with me.
Why you should go Division III
Every kid who plays sports says how they want to “go DI.” However, “going DI” does not give you the opportunities that playing at the Division III level allows. Division III lets you stay competitive while also keeping your life. Although you are still committed, it doesn’t take over every aspect of your freedom and make every decision for you.
The difference between playing at the DIII compared to DI is that with DIII you have the most freedom. You travel much shorter distances, have a shorter off-season, and have summers off. Not to mention the more balanced college lifestyle, playing DIII allows you to continue to play your sport at a competitive level while also keeping a focus on gaining your degree.
At any level in collegiate sports, there is an intense amount of pressure put on athletes to do well in school and athletics, however at a higher level like division I, the stress is much more. The Division I level often leads to mental health concerns including anxiety, depression, and stress.
As I come to the end of my time here at Cabrini, I would not change a single thing about my decision to come here to play Division III soccer. The endless laughs, cries, and chats I have had with my teammates, who are also my best friends and will continue to be lifelong friends, will stick with me forever.
Going Division III gives athletes an opportunity others do not get when playing at a higher level. My experience may not be the same as everyone else, however, I used soccer as an escape and a place to socialize and create memorable moments, all while having fun and playing the sport that raised me.
Danielle Rooney, a teammate of mine had recently transferred here to Cabrini from playing DI soccer at Lasalle University for a better experience.
“I got more of a balanced college experience and playing at the division I level felt more like a job and the pressure was a lot,” said Rooney.
Division III offers a place to fit in, create memories, and continue to have a normal social life while playing the sport or sports competitively. Here at Cabrini and other DIII schools, opportunities are endless when deciding which sports you want to continue or even start playing. I knew teammates who picked up new sports such as tennis and rowing.
What I will miss the most
As a DIII athlete, I have been able to travel to new states such as Massachusetts and stay overnight in cities I never visited before college, all while in the company of my best friends. During endless bus rides, I performed skits and made viral videos for our team’s TikTok account, which I have had the opportunity to run for the past two years.
I am going to miss doing my dance routine and drop splits in the huddle before every game, planning Halloween Havoc costumes and walk-out performances, and competing in the yearly talent show I have yet to win (I guess I am just too talented).
I took media day photos for my team and created YouTube videos to capture the memories of each season. These opportunities also helped me build my visual portfolio. I bet no Division I player takes their own media day photos.
I am going to miss all the Irish dancing and all the knee pain I received by doing the Rasputin dance before every game. It probably was not the best warm up, but I was having fun, and here at Cabrini, that’s what it is all about.
Yes, playing DIII is still competitive. I won two Atlantic East Championships, appeared in three NCAA tournaments and two Eastern College Athletic Conference tournaments.
Just because you compete at the DIII level of college athletics, it doesn’t mean you’re less serious about your sport. It just means you keep it in perspective. As Coach Prothero always says, “We are students first, then soccer players.” This helps keep sports fun rather than making the team feel like a full-time job that leads to burnout or injury.
Enjoy every aspect of your college years, because once you graduate, you will never get back this freedom and time.
To me, unless an athlete plans to go professional, Division I is not worth it. Putting in all these hours of training for a sport that will end after college did not seem logical for me.
A good ending
At this level, no one tries to be the star, and each player gets to bring a skill and uniqueness about them that helps make us successful. For me, this was definitely my sense of humor and good looks, but for others it was usually soccer related.
As I am about to graduate, I want to thank every person who has been on this wild crazy ride with me: every coach, teammate, friend, family, professor, and teacher who supported me and allowed me to continue playing this wonderful sport. I would not have been able to do it without you.
And thank you to Division III for allowing me to continue this hobby I picked up as a kid. I will forever be grateful.