June 22, 2024

UMW Celebrates Division III Week, April 13-19

UMW Women's Basketball participates in a read-aloud with local students.

UMW Women’s Basketball participates in a read-aloud with local students.

Dear UMW Colleagues,

Last week marked the NCAA’s Division III week, April 13-19, our student-athletes are not able to practice or compete. So rather than focus on what the student-athletes and their coaches accomplish on the field or court, I will take this opportunity to recognize their incredible devotion to a key part of our ASPIRE values—engagement through service.

As you may know, our student-athletes receive no athletic scholarships whatsoever. They chose the DIII model because it combines a love of the game with the chance to concentrate on academic achievement as well. Here at UMW, our varsity athletics teams pride themselves on not just their GPAs and win/loss records, but also how much and how often they can find opportunities to volunteer for a myriad of causes and groups in the Fredericksburg area. The Eagles have been working hard all year in a friendly competition to amass the most volunteer hours, and even though their Spring seasons and service events were abruptly ended, they managed to make substantial contributions.

UMW student-athletes participate in a clean-up of the Rappahannock River.

UMW student-athletes participate in a clean-up of the Rappahannock River.

For example, the men’s soccer team led all others in total service hours with 320.5. Off the pitch, they helped set up and break down equipment for the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s gymnastics event, served community dinners at the Fredericksburg Baptist Church, and assisted an elderly Fredericksburg resident with her move. The next closest team was men’s and women’s swimming, at 256 hours, followed by women’s basketball with 233. These teams participated in COAR Into the Streets and community dinners. But total service hours for a team is only one way the student-athletes compete. The women’s basketball team holds the record for most hours per individual student-athlete with an average of 15.52 hours. And the entire Athletics Department participated in a Capital Athletic Conference food drive during the Fall semester, collecting a whopping 6395 pounds of food to donate to the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank. That total beat the nearest CAC competitor—CNU—by almost two tons.

All teams provided volunteers for special events like blood drives, reading clinics with grade school children, cleaning up the Rappahannock River, present wrapping for COAR, and assisting with Special Olympics events. These activities build camaraderie, but they also allow the volunteers a chance to learn about the needs of the local community and take an active role in helping others.

While we’re all anxious to get back to our usual routines, I hope you’ll join me in thanking the student-athletes and their coaches for their dedication to making our world just a little bit better.

Best wishes,

Mary Beth Mathews

UMW Faculty Athletics Representative, Professor of Religious Studies