Why DIII: Celebrating Division III Week

SPOKANE, Wash. – Over 440 institutions, including Whitworth University, make up the largest division in the NCAA: Division III. Encompassing 40 percent of the NCAA’s total membership, Division III has 43 conferences and each institution sponsors an average of 17 varsity sports. Whitworth sponsors slightly above the Division III average, competing in 20 varsity sports.

Division III emphasizes three values: discover, develop and dedicate. Student-athletes are encouraged to discover themselves outside of the classroom and off the field of play. DIII institutions provide environments that encourage student-athletes to develop into well-rounded adults. Student-athletes are expected to dedicate themselves to reaching their potential.

In 2010, Division III introduced the Identity Initiative to provide schools and conferences an explanation as to why they prefer to compete on the DIII level. Part of Division III’s Identity Initiative is Division III Week, which encourages member institutions to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on campus. Throughout the course of the week, member institutions and conferences are encouraged to share their “Why DIII” stories.

Several Whitworth student-athletes shared why they chose to attend a Division III school and play collegiate sports at the DIII level.


“I enjoy playing basketball at Whitworth because it allows for the perfect balance of fun and being a big commitment. Everyone here is very similar to me and plays because of the love of the game.”
-Kayla Johnson, Junior, Health Science, Women’s Basketball


“I chose to come to Whitworth to compete on the track and field team because I knew that the program would help me better myself as an athlete. The coaching staff is incredible, as we have a coach for each event. Throwing the javelin, in college, has been a lifelong dream of mine, but I also wanted to place myself in an atmosphere that puts God first. That is exactly what the track TEAM is all about. We don't get all of the perks of a Division I school, but the people and relationships that are formed outweigh all of the ‘stuff’ that you would get elsewhere. Division III schools allow us athletes to be able to focus on academics, along with the chance to compete at a competitive level of college sports.”
-Kerry Wright, Freshman, Undeclared, Women’s Track and Field


“The Division III atmosphere has allowed me to pursue a degree that I truly care about.  As a DIII student-athlete, I believe that being a student is just as important as being an athlete.  Coming out of high school, I wanted to be able to compete in both the classroom and on the field and I think that Whitworth has allowed me to do that.”
-Gerhard Muelheims, Junior, Economics and Accounting, Baseball


“Whitworth is a university that places high emphasis on academics as well as athletics. The school does a good job at pushing you in your sport, but at the same time, making sure you stay on top of your classes so you are able to get the most out of your education.”
-Jesse Salzwedel, Junior, Accounting, Men’s Golf


"The reason I chose Division III is because of its intimate setting.  When you’re out there on the court and you look out at your fans, you see your family, your friends, your professors, your classmates, people you know.  As a Division III athlete, you’re not playing for a scholarship; you’re playing because you love the game.  Division III athletes take pride in the title ‘student-athlete.’  Although I might not be playing next to future Olympians, I’m playing side-by-side with women who will become teachers, nurses, and physical therapists, women who will definitely make an impact in this world.  Being a Division III athlete here at Whitworth allows me to receive a high-quality education, while competing in the sport I love.  I know every day when I go out to practice, all the sweat, pain, and hard work will pay off because I’m doing this for my team, and in larger perspective, my school, people who I know on a first name basis." 
-Whitney Santos, Senior, Journalism, Volleyball


“I chose to participate in Whitworth sports because I love representing my school, I love being part of the team, and because I believe in glorifying God through athletics. At Whitworth, I get the unique opportunity to not only express my love of swimming and the family atmosphere it fosters, but also my faith. Our team is very faith-based, and we always try to focus what we're doing on creating a team environment in which we can celebrate our faith and glorify God through our athletics. I think that this type of a team dynamic is unique to Whitworth.
     I started my college-athlete career as a swimmer at a DI school. However, after two weeks of attendance I quickly realized what a big mistake I had made. I switched to Whitworth just in time to start the season and have never regretted my decision. DIII has something that you will not find at a DI school; the family atmosphere that is essential to having an enjoyable college experience. When I joined the swim team at Whitworth, I had an automatic group of nearly fifty friends who I knew would be there to support me in any way I needed. That is not only unique to DIII; it's unique to Whitworth. Plus, there is something to be said for swimming with a group of people who are there without the added incentive of a scholarship. We all are there because we want to be there, want to be part of the swimming family, and because all have a love of the sport.”
-Kate Duvall, Junior, Spanish and History, Women’s Swimming


“I chose Whitworth for a couple of different reasons.  The main reason was so I could play a couple more seasons with my brother Clay.  He was a junior here my freshman year.  Also, it was close enough for my family to be able to attend games.  Another reason was the reputation of the business program at Whitworth.  Several of the players on the team were business majors and they all told me they liked the program and the professors.  In general I think a D3 program is great because most D3 players are not going to go pro, so there is an emphasis on academics and preparing student-athletes for their future outside of sports.” 
-Wade Gebbers, Senior, Business Management, Men’s Basketball


“I choose to be an athlete at Whitworth because not only could I play sports but I could get an amazing education. I feel very blessed to be able to play two sports at Whitworth. The experiences that I have gained from participating are irreplaceable. I knew coming into Whitworth I was headed to a Christian community and the coaches were well established and welcoming. I am so thankful for the chance to be an athlete at Whitworth and hope that students that are thinking about being a DIII athlete will consider Whitworth because of all the benefits of not only amazing sports teams, winning records and awesome coaches, but because of the all-around person Whitworth will help shape you into.”
-Emily Guthrie, Senior, Kinesiology and Nursing, Women’s Basketball and Women’s Golf

“I think a lot of people choose DIII for two options: the first being that they want to continue their respective sport and cannot make a larger college team such as a state school, and the second being that they are comparable athletes across the NCAA and they want to focus on a decent education rather than having their sport come before school/classes.”
-Christian Boudreau, Senior, Marketing, Men’s Golf