By Corey King
Virginia Wesleyan College celebrated Division III week earlier this month, recognizing the accomplishments and experiences of student-athletes on and off of the field/court.
According to the VWC Athletics website, Division III Week is an opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment, athletic experience or leadership/community service/campus involvement. The week was celebrated by numerous colleges across the nation.
Virginia Wesleyan College scheduled events to be held on each day of the week: Motivational Monday, Marlin T-Shirt Day Tuesday, Marlin Fan Game Wednesday, Invite a Faculty Member to Lunch Thursday and Team Selfie Friday.
“I think it’s good for the school. Sometimes people don’t always realize everything that our student-athletes do outside of their sports. It’s nice DIII Week gives them the exposure they deserve as well as showcasing how great the school is to the general public,” Sports Information Director Cody Clifton said.
Clifton wrote about four athletes during the week: Austin VonVille, Luke Chiasson, Marin Crowder and Amanda Baxter. A fifth athlete, Ben Fletcher, was also going to be recognized, but due to uncontrollable circumstances, he could not be.
VonVille’s story showed a different side of the life of a student-athlete. It showed that in Division III, life is not all about sports. Most athletes in the NCAA division realize after they graduate, they are going to be heading out into the workforce. VonVille did something last season that many athletes never even think of doing because they want to play their senior seasons. Austin VonVille chose to sit out his senior season to study international relations abroad in Brussels and Belgium, giving him the opportunity to experience a whole new place and culture while allowing him to further his education at the same time.
“It was an honor to be selected as one of the DIII week athletes because athletics has been a huge part of my college career. It was also awesome to be able to show people a glimpse into my values for both athletics and academics by playing soccer and then studying abroad my senior year,” Vonville said.
Luke Chiasson’s story was also shared during this week. Luke Chiasson, a freshman pitcher/first baseman for the baseball team, accumulated impressive academic achievements while adjusting to the life of a student-athlete. Chaisson is on track to post a solid 4.0 GPA in his first year at Virginia Wesleyan College and earned recognition in Phi Eta Sigma, an honor society for freshman students.
In addition to academics, Chiasson is an important component for the Marlin pitching staff. The freshman posted a 2.21 ERA (Earned Run Average), which is leading the leading Marlin ERA. Chiasson is also a key asset in the VWC Sports Information department. He typically works the scoreboard for basketball or does stats for volleyball and soccer games.
“It felt rewarding to be recognized during DIII week. I go about my business day by day to get everything done to the best of my ability. So, for someone to notice what I do on as well as off the field made it feel good,” Chiasson said.
Amanda Baxter a junior at Virginia Wesleyan College took a break from hustle and bustle of student-athlete life after her junior season on the soccer field and experienced the cultures of Mexico. While in Mexico, Baxter visited many places of cultural history. Baxter, on top of being a member of the women’s soccer team, is in many clubs on campus and is part of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society.
The fourth student-athlete who was highlighted by DIII week was Crowder. Crowder is a senior member of the volleyball team. Following her senior campaign, she was named All-State Second Team for the libero/defense position. She, like VonVille, Chiasson and Baxter, goes above and beyond managing her school work, athletics and traveling. Crowder flew to study abroad in Maui, Hawaii for a winter session course.
The last student-athlete chosen for recognition was Fletcher. Fletcher, a senior at Virginia Wesleyan College, studied abroad in London over winter session. Fletcher is a senior defenseman on the men’s lacrosse team. Fletcher said his experience over winter session was brief but enlightening.
“It was definitely an amazing experience. Although it was short, I learned more about the culture and people in London than any textbook could teach me. As a spring athlete, I am busy during the fall and spring, so it was perfect for me because I didn’t miss lacrosse,” Fletcher said.