What does it mean to be a student-athlete? I have been asked that question a number of times since coming to Middlebury, and the idea of the “student-athlete” played a large role in my college application process. I love sports, and I have always loved them, throughout my life I have played on a variety of sports teams and was a 3 sport varsity athlete in high school. I knew that when I finished high school I did not want to stop being part of a team or stop playing the sports that I love. That is why I decided to look for a school where I could continue to play football. However, I didn’t want to go to a school that would define me by my participation in athletics, Middlebury was the only school that recruited me that said as a student-athlete would be a student first and an athlete second. This concept played a large role in me eventually going to Middlebury, and it has continued to be important to me since I have been here. That is why I would like to talk to you all about what it means to be a student-athlete at Middlebury.
Probably the greatest thing about Division III sports is the passion, love, and respect for the game that exists at this level. Every athlete at Middlebury and at other D III programs plays because they love the game and wanted to continue to play. There are no other motives to play, we do not get scholarships, and most of us (besides possibly Ryan Moores) are not going to play at a professional level. Because sports are just a passion for the student-athlete and not the full reason why an athlete is at Middlebury, athletes are able to participate in a variety of other things as well. There is no set definition for what an athlete has to be. Athletes can be found in every major or minor at the college and on scores of the over 150 non-athletic student organizations that you can find on campus.
So what does just relying on passion bring you? The Directors Cup for one. For the first time in our history last year Middlebury College won the Director’s Cup. In short the Director’s Cup is an award given by National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), it is given to the D III athletics program that performed best overall in terms of season records and championship performances. A variety of teams last year from our women’s field hockey, ice hockey and volleyball to our men’s basketball, lacrosse, and soccer teams all put together terrific seasons. This goes to show that by coming to Middlebury and playing for a team here you will not sacrifice the excellence that all athletes expect of their teammates, their coaches, and their selves.