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UWRF celebrates D3 values

April 6, 2012

The NCAA is putting on Division III Week, a week designed to promote the uniqueness of small-school athletics at all 444 Division III colleges and universities. The week begins April 9 and runs through April 15.

Division III Week is part of the NCAA’s Division III “Discover, Develop, Dedicate” Identity Initiative. According to the NCAA’s website, the purpose of the initiative is to “more precisely define Division III and articulate its distinctive values.”

UW-River Falls supports 16 different teams between men’s and women’s sports. UWRF Assistant Athletic Director Crystal Lanning explained the distinctiveness of Division III athletics, specifically at UWRF.

“Division III offers the opportunity to be a well-rounded student, opportunities to be involved in other activities. You might not get that at a D-I or D-II school,” said Lanning, who is also an assistant athletic trainer on campus.

At larger universities, student-athletes might not have the time to engage in other campus organizations.

However, senior UWRF hockey player and chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee John Bullis says that being a Division III athlete can be very similar to being a Division I athlete.

“Division III is pretty similar to Division I. Besides bigger schools and bigger budgets, the competition level is really good and offers athletes a place to play if Division I didn’t work out the way it was supposed to,” said the Frisco, Texas native.

There are challenges that Division III schools face that can be hard to overcome, but Lanning said that UWRF does have a lot to offer today’s student-athlete.

“The biggest thing is that we can’t offer the athletic scholarship. All Twin Cities schools are private and we can offer a much better tuition rate. We have a lot of very high quality academic programs,” Lanning said. “A lot of kids look at facilities. Soon we’ll have the new Falcon Center facilities, and we have a hockey arena right on campus which not many Division III schools have.”

Those facilities coupled with a history of success are what drew the senior defenseman Bullis to UWRF hockey.

The NCAA is encouraging all Division III colleges and universities to promote Division III Week through a number of different ways such as conducting a youth sports clinic or scheduling a community service activity. UWRF and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee chose to celebrate the week by hosting a tailgate event at 12-2 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at Ramer Field.

“We knew we had two large athletic events on the 14th and thought a tailgate event would be a fun way to bring people together and showcase Division III studentathletes in action,” Lanning said. “There will be yard games available and an opportunity to socialize with Falcon student-athletes.”

The tailgate takes place the same day as a home softball doubleheader and a home track and field meet. The doubleheader begins at 12 p.m. and the track and field meet begins at 11 a.m.