Division III Week will be celebrated nationwide by 300-plus institutions between April 6th and April 12th, with emphasis upon academic accomplishment, athletic experience and leadership, community service and campus involvement.
Since it began in 2010, NCAA Division III Week has become an annual event aimed at celebrating Division III student athletes and their impact and achievements on campus and in the community. Division III Week was created as part of Division III's Identity Initiative, which was aimed to enhance the identity of Division III programs nationwide.
As we celebrate Division III week this week, we will feature a pair of accomplished cadet-athletes that are excelling in the Division III environment.
Junior Torie Sutherland, a two-time second team All-conference selection, has been an important member to the Coast Guard women's basketball team since her freshman year. Going into her senior year Sutherland is already found all over the Bears record book as she is in the top 25 in points (14th-839), rebounds (11th-545), assists (24th-130), and blocks (15th-26).
Not only has Sutherland excelled individually she has also contributed to the resurgence of the women's basketball program. The team has gone from winning ten games in her freshman year to winning 19 games in each of the past two seasons. The team has finished each of the last two regular seasons as one of the top three teams in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).
"After visiting the Coast Guard Academy during the Academy Introduction Mission program (AIM), I fell in love with the Coast Guard. I was very drawn to the Humanitarian Service and family atmosphere the Coast Guard Academy offered," said Sutherland when asked about her decision to come to the Coast Guard Academy. "I found out that I got my appointment to the Academy shortly after AIM and knew that I was done with my college application process. I visited the Coast Guard another time in February of my senior year to watch a women's basketball game and once again was blown away at how friendly, down to earth, and professional the members of the service were. I remember talking to (Ret.) Captain Gaines and now 1/c Dani Knox after the game and was reassured that I made the right decision to come here."
Being a Texas native, Sutherland had the opportunity to go to a number of large Division I schools near her home but opted to go to a smaller division III service academy saying, "I was looking for something smaller and more family oriented that would prevent me from being just another face in the crowd. I wanted something more out of my college experience, which is why I was very accepting to playing basketball at the Division III level. Going to school at the Coast Guard Academy has exposed me to some of the most competitive, driven and hardworking people I have ever met. I would not trade my Division III experience for anything."
Sutherland has enjoyed her time as Division III student athlete, connecting with her teammates and fulfilling her dream of playing basketball at the collegiate level.
"I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience so far as a Division III athlete. Basketball has been my outlet since I was seven years old. To be able to play the game I love so much at the collegiate level is a dream come true," commented Sutherland. "I did not really know what to expect at the beginning, as my high school team was a tight knit group of nine seniors who had been hooping together since first grade. I quickly found out that where I left off in high school with my teammate is where I picked up quickly with the basketball girls here at the Academy. We eat together, workout together, go to class together, do homework together, laugh together and cry together. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls to be on a team with."
Being a cadet-athlete is also unique as not only do the players have to balance their academics with their sports but they also have to factor in their military responsibility. Sutherland attributes her success as a Division III cadet athlete to the support of her head coach Alex Ivansheck and being a part of the Corps of Cadets.
"Much of our success on and off the court can be attributed to the leadership of coach Ivansheck. She has gotten us to buy in to the legacy she is building here at the Coast Guard Academy," said Sutherland. "Going to a Division III school that is a service Academy is very unique in that our time is often tied up in other things militarily, academically and socially. Coach Ivansheck does an exceptional job helping us balance all of this, while still preparing us to tear it up on the court. "
Sutherland goes on to say, "Being an athlete at the Coast Guard Academy is not easier or harder than being a Division III athlete at any other school, it is just different. Our days at the Coast Guard Academy are quite regimented. From what to wear, what we eat, when we can leave, when we can sleep, when we can work out, everything is planned. I would not have my college experience any other way. Being a part of the Corps of Cadets is one of the things I am most proud of. Making sacrifices to do this may not always be the most fun, but being a part of something larger than myself gives me a sense of fulfillment."
Sutherland is an outstanding example of one our many Cadet athletes who not only balance their military responsibilities with academics but also excel in their sport.
MORE ON DIII WEEK
In Division III, we realize that the classroom is the primary setting for preparing student-athletes. However, Division III also understands that academics are more than just GPAs, test scores and majors; it is a comprehensive learning experience that develops successful leaders and professionals. Work with your FAR and faculty to highlight the academic success of your student-athletes.
Passion and sportsmanship are attributes of the "athlete" in the Division III "student-athlete" paradigm. The "athlete" plays for the love of the game, strives for excellence in all facets of life and perseveres through adversity. So, during Division III Week, celebrate the athletic component of our identity – a true homage to the symbiotic relationship of athletics and higher education- by hosting a banquet for your student-athletes or a clinic for local youth teams.
Citizenship and responsibility are Division III attributes. Student-athletes "giving back" not only adds to the comprehensive learning component of Division III, but also provides a venue for passion and service. While Division III institutions are encouraged to engage in a Special Olympics activity during Division III Week, other possible activations include: organizing a leadership symposium; scheduling a motivational speaker; or engaging with another community service partner or charity.
D III WEEK LINK -- http://www.ncaa.org/about/division-iii-week-2015