A student juggles holding multiple pieces of sports equipment and textbooks. Illustration by Míceal Munroe-Allsup.

Nationwide Event Bolsters Division III Pride

Division III Week is an annual event that has been encouraged by the NCAA since 2010. The purpose of this week is to provide an opportunity for Division III athletes to showcase the positive impact the division has had not only on athletics, but also their college campus communities. The underlying goal of the event is to spread awareness of Division III athletics and the beneficial outcomes it provides for many.

For many Lewis & Clark student-athletes, the decision to become a part of the Division III athletic community was motivated by the balance between athletics and academics it provides.

After almost finishing her first year at LC, volleyball athlete Isabel Artiaga ’22 commented on her Division III decision.

“I chose to play (Division III) because it allowed me to receive a world-class education and also allows me to play the sport I love at the collegiate level,” Artiaga said. “I think that the biggest benefits are that the coaches emphasize that you are a student-athlete first, not an athletic student.”

This academic and athletic balance is uniquely found in Division III athletics. Division III athletes receive a more well-rounded college experience than Division I or Division II athletics allow due to the rigorous athletic time commitment required by those divisions.

“Academics is our main priority, and as athletes, we have to be willing and able to manage our time between balancing our classes and workouts,” Artiaga said.

Other than the athletic and academic balance the Division III provides, it also allows its student-athletes to take on representative leadership roles. Artiaga mentioned that as a first-year student, she has been able to serve as her team representative in the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and next year will take on the role of SAAC secretary for the entire Northwest Conference.

Football athlete Pete Lahti ’19 expressed that participating in Division III athletics has allowed him to further pursue his passions and learn from his experiences.

“I’ve always been really academically minded, and when my last football game ended in high school, I knew I wasn’t ready to walk away,” Lahti said. “In my life, sports had the biggest impact on my life, and I knew I had more to learn from it.”

Lahti stated that by continuing to pursue the sport he loves in college, he was welcomed into a community that encouraged and taught him to take risks in other aspects of his life.

“I think above all else, I knew that I was going to have the opportunity to grow the most as an individual while participating in a Division III program — playing sports, being challenged academically and being in an environment where I could learn from my peers and be encouraged to step out of my comfort zone,” Lahti said. “It turns out that those things have been the biggest benefits for me. Coming to Lewis & Clark changed my perception of success from doing well in sports and school to striving to excel in all avenues of life.”

By participating in LC’s Division III program, students are presented with challenges and opportunities they may not have been exposed to elsewhere. Lahti gave credit to the college and its athletic community for helping him decide what his next steps in life would be.

“I always had a feeling that I would accomplish something really meaningful in life, but I just didn’t know what,” Lahti said. “Lewis & Clark played a big role in helping me realize that I want to make my impact in dentistry.”

Having the opportunity to participate in college athletics while excelling in their academic studies was a huge factor many of LC’s student athletes strive for when they decide to attend Lewis & Clark. Many of them discovered that this would only be possible by choosing to be a part of our Division III community.

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