June 9, 2023

DIII Week–Wednesday

UMW Colleagues,

Did you know that NCAA’s Division III is the largest of the three NCAA divisions with 450 schools?  Over 183,500 student-athletes play for the love of their sport—they receive no scholarships for athletics.  So why would a student-athlete continue to play his or her sport AND why would he or she choose UMW?

Let’s hear from three track and field athletes today.  Emily Derse is a senior International Affairs major from Williamsburg.  Danielle Holzhauser is a junior majoring in English from Lexana, VA.  Chris Markham hails from Palmyra and is a junior majoring in Journalism. 

Emily:  I chose to run at a DIII institution because I knew that I wanted to be on a track and field team in college. I love the sport that I play and I believe that DIII athletes really represent that. We don’t get paid to play, but we still put in many hours of training and competing. Athletes that play DIII are extremely passionate about their sport and show it by creating the great competition we have in this division.  I decided to run at the University of Mary Washington because it was a beautiful campus and the athletic department was very welcoming. I got to talk to a lot of previous athletes and they did not have any negative feedback and loved representing Mary Washington. As a senior, I look back at these past years at UMW and ask myself, “Was it worth getting up at 7 in the morning, three days a week?” Yes. “Was giving up entire Saturday’s in order to travel and compete with my team?” Absolutely. Not only has being a student athlete at UMW been an amazing experience due to my team, my coaches, and the department, but being a part of it all shaped the way I look at leadership and teamwork. I would not have wanted to spend these past four years running for any other school. 

Danielle:   Honestly I didn’t consider running track at a collegiate level in high school because I didn’t believe I was good enough. But then my high school coach told me about Mary Washington; he knew the head coach at that time and encouraged me to apply and reach out to him. He said that DIII would be good for me, but I didn’t know at the time what DIII actually meant. Now I know that it means working hard for something that you want, with people who want what you want and not what everyone else expects of you. It means reaching out and supporting your teammates on the good and bad days. I run at a DIII university because I can do my best to succeed on and off the track. There’s no scholarship hanging over my head pressuring me to perform to its standards; but instead there is the pressure of doing the best that I can and not letting my team down.  

Chris:  I grew up an avid sports fan. Following college athletics was one of my favorite things to do. But as I grew up, I saw the corruption, the scandals, the insane amount of money involved in big-time Division I athletics. I knew I wanted to run in college, and ultimately I narrowed my choices down to two DIII schools and two DI schools. (Unfortunately one of those two DIII schools was CNU). Not wanting to get caught up in the hoopla and disgusting amounts of money involved in DI athletics, I thought about where I wanted to be 10 years from high school graduation. A lot of options came up, but one that never did was running professionally. In fact, a vast majority of college athletes from all divisions never go pro in their sport. Devoting that much time and energy to something that was destined to end upon my graduation did not appeal to me. I wanted to be able to split my time between running, schoolwork, extracurriculars and a social life. I wouldn’t have been able to do that at a DI school and what I saw in Mary Washington was a perfect blend of everything I wanted, particularly a competitive athletic environment that would allow me to make time for other commitments. Ultimately, UMW was the only school I applied to because of the confidence I had in my decision and the DIII model. It was and still is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life (not going to CNU was a close second). 

(For those of you who may be new to the competition within the Capital Athletic Conference, CNU is a main competitor!)

Thanks for all you do to support our terrific student-athletes at UMW.



Lynne Richardson

Faculty Athletic Representative

Dean, College of Business