Starting on April 4 and ending the 10th, the DIII week is one anticipated week where athletes can spend some time together doing fun activities and talking about their experiences here at VWU. For this week, members of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), some faculty and other student athletes prepared an interesting week for the athletes to participate in.
DIII week was first introduced in 2010, and Coach Jeff Bowers has participated in all of them. “I’ve been here for 22 years, and we’ve been doing DIII week for quite a while,” Bowers said.
On the other side, chair of SAAC, senior Mackenzie Kerns, has participated in three DIII weeks and this week will be her fourth. “By the end of this DIII week, I will have participated in four DIII weeks and two of those have been strictly social media or online due to the pandemic,” Kerns said.
DIII week’s purpose is about celebrating DIII athletes with events that are planned specifically for them. “This week is to highlight our DIII, as student athletes from each sport. Also, just to really show how great it is to be a DIII athlete,” Bowers said.
DIII week kickoff started with Fins Up FinFest, which is a type of ‘field-day’ for student athletes. “This is the first year that we are having Fins Up FinFest prior to DIII week as kind of a kick off and an opportunity to celebrate them and hopefully we can as an athletic department give back to them as well,” Bowers said.
For Kerns, Fins Up FinFest is one of the main important activities of this week. “I think the main important things are Fins Up FinFest, and just honoring our athletic careers in our division,” Kerns said.
Some of the activities planned for this week include #WhyD3, #Marlin Memories, #DayintheLife, Athlete Bonfire and Senior Shoutout. The DIII week also expands on social media, given that #DayintheLife is an athletic team Instagram takeover to see the typical day of a student athlete and #MarlinMemories are posts of athletes’ favorite moments with their respective teams.
These events changed every year except for #WhyD3. “Every year there is always one day focused on #WhyD3 where we have the opportunity to share why we decided to play at this level. The other events change depending on ideas that may be more relevant or what our student athletes want to see,” Kerns said.
Some athletes have been waiting for this week, since last year DIII week was virtually held during COVID-19. “I think people are excited because this year we get to have in-person events which we haven’t been able to do for the past two years,” Kerns said.
An event highlighting Morgan’s Message was not in the plan, however, prior to DIII week, Morgan’s Message was highlighted in athletic events. Kerns expressed, “Morgan’s Message wasn’t directly involved but the weeks leading up to DIII week were dedication weeks for Morgan’s Message where our athletic events were dedicated to and honoring the organization.”
DIII week is an opportunity for athletes to share and participate in fun activities, despite the sports that they play. “This week shows an understanding of why our student athletes are participating in Division III and the benefits of it,” Bowers said.
This week also looks forward to the recognition of athletes. “As an athlete, I would expect recognition for DIII athletes and to be given similar respect as other divisions and acknowledgement of our hard work and dedication to our sports and our education,” Kerns said.
Although this week is only for athletes, coaches and staff members seemed excited for DIII week. “These last two years has been difficult for them, but I think that once DIII week comes rolling around, our athletes will get ‘pumped’ to do some fun events. So, I am glad that we were able to do this week for them, I think it’s fantastic,” Bowers said.
By Steven Serrano