HCAC Set to Celebrate NCAA Division III Week
GREENWOOD, IN - The first observance of NCAA Division III Week is set for April 9-15 across the country. The event is a celebration by member institutions of the division’s unique philosophy that equally values academics, athletics and student-athletes’ involvement in a full and rich campus life.
“The idea of identifying a specific week in which to celebrate the Division III student-athlete experience has grown out of the division’s new identity initiative,” said HCAC Commissioner Christopher Ragsdale. “This initiative has been guided by a strategic-positioning platform describing Division III as a place where student-athletes can ‘follow their passions and develop their potential’.”
With the inception of NCAA Division III Week, every member institution and conference was urged to schedule at least one activity, which celebrates an aspect of the Division III student-athlete experience, from these three categories:
- Academic accomplishment, including activities such as taking time during a game to acknowledge student-athlete academic achievement, or asking teams to select a faculty member to serve as a guest coach for a practice or competition.
- Athletics activity, including conducting events such as a youth sports clinic or competition, or scheduling recognition of school teams’ or individuals’ athletics accomplishments during a game.
- Community or campus outreach, such as scheduling a community-service activity during the week, or participating in an event involving a local chapter of Special Olympics as part of Division III’s developing partnership with that organization.
Seven HCAC institutions will take part in the specific week’s activities on or around their campuses. The conference office, in conjunction with the HCAC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, will sponsor a bowling event in Indianapolis with Special Olympics of Indiana on Sunday, April 15 to cap off the week’s festivities.
Anderson University is partnering with Park Place Community Center’s mentoring program to bring kids and their student mentors to the AU baseball and softball games on April 11th. Special Olympic athletes will also be in attendance at the games. There will be a special edition of Sports Talk highlighting the events going on during the week, as well as Chapel announcements that promote the student-athlete experience. AU student-athletes will also be visiting local elementary schools to join kids for lunch, class, or reading programs.
Bluffton University will help the community as they prepare for the spring season. Student-athletes will help with mulching and weeding in the community’s parks. In addition to this outreach, the University will be hosting an Autism Walk/Run on Saturday, April 14th on campus.
The Defiance College track and field team will participate in a Special Olympics activity throughout the month of April. Special Olympic athletes will come to DC to practice events with student-athletes and prepare to compete in a meet scheduled for May. Along with Special Olympics coming to campus, Defiance will host its annual CHAMPS Night on April 12. CHAMPS Night is a fun, competitive night where all the athletic teams challenge each other to a variety of events and contests. Another scheduled event for Division III week will be the DC softball faculty and staff game. On April 10th, DC softball will invite faculty and staff members to their home contest against Bluffton. Those selected faculty and staff members will be recognized during the game for their efforts with DC softball student-athletes.
Earlham College is doing a Special Olympics day on Saturday, April 14th. The day will kick off with activities planned with over 20 Special Olympic athletes. Earlham student-athletes will work alongside the SO athletes in corn toss, bocce ball, and horseshoes. The athletes will also have lunch together following the activities.
Manchester College has a couple events planned during the special week. On April 9, the baseball team will play Defiance at Parkview Field, home of the minor league Tin Caps, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On the 10th, Manchester will host their annual National Student-Athlete Day Dinner for four year student-athletes and their faculty guests. This is a night in which Manchester recognizes four year student-athletes for their commitments to MC athletic programs and academic achievements. The students will also recognize faculty members for all their support and mentoring over the years.
The College of Mount St. Joseph will be conducting a trivia contest where students can win prizes. The College will also be making announcements at all home games throughout the week and recognizing any student-athletes that are in attendance.
Rose-Hulman’s Division III Week activities will focus on community and campus outreach. RHIT will be rewarding students for attending multiple events on campus during the week and free sportsmanship t-shirts will be given out at each event. Rose-Hulman will also be introducing faculty members making a difference to members of the baseball and softball teams at their respective games.
Franklin, Hanover, and Transylvania will also be or have been involved in various activities highlighting the Division III experience.
Franklin College SAAC will host the second annual “Grizzly Give Back” on Tuesday, May 8. Last year’s “Grizzly Give Back” was attended by more than 400 FC students, faculty, staff and members of the Franklin Boys & Girls Club at Faught Stadium. This year, the group will be handing out Division III t-shirts and will also invite local Special Olympic athletes to attend.
Hanover College has been focusing all of its extra time, efforts, and energies assisting the local community with clean-up following the early March tornadoes in southern Indiana. The school will continue to have student-athletes assist the local community with these efforts to help ease the burden.
Transylvania University’s SAAC did an amazing job this past month raising over $4,000 for Special Olympics. The University had 15 student-athletes participate in the annual Polar Bear Plunge and raised over $4,000 via pledges.
“As Commissioner I am very proud of the work of our conference membership and their continued efforts to support the intercollegiate athletic experience as an integral part of the overall educational experience of the student-athlete,” said Ragsdale. “HCAC student-athletes excel in the classroom; excel on the athletic fields; and are actively involved on their campuses and in their communities. I am very pleased that we would choose to recognize these contributions with this celebration.”