Practice 10 A.M to 1 P.M. everyday of the week.
Film sessions and work outs in the gym.
Leave school on Thursday morning and return on Sunday.
Completely miss the college experience that so many of us enjoy.
Such is the life of a Division I athlete in today’s ultra-competitive, winner take all environment. No one understands this life more than sophomore, Hope Battista. Last year Hope was a member of the Georgetown women’s field hockey team. Hope described her time at Georgetown as a full-time commitment to the team; “I would leave on a Thursday morning and miss all my Thursday and Friday classes, drive or fly a couple hours, play Saturday and Sunday and get back late Sunday night.” During these hectic times Hope felt like she was missing out on so much back on campus.
Flash forward a year and Hope finds herself stepping out onto the field as a member of the Green Terror field hockey team. When asked why she transferred to McDaniel College, Hope responds, “I liked the small school atmosphere and how everyone seemed to be so friendly.” Adding to Hope’s comfort with transferring were her family ties McDaniel. Her stepfather is in the McDaniel Hall of Fame for football, and her stepbrother, Aaron Bonaccorsy, is a junior here on the Hill.
Thus far, Hope has enjoyed every minute out on the field with her new teammates. “Everyone gets along so well, and there’s not really any division between classes. I feel like I can talk to the seniors the same as the freshman, and I didn’t really experience that at Georgetown.” The camaraderie the team shares while playing even carries off the field, as Hope explains the whole team hangs out away from the field.
As one of many new members on the field hockey team, Hope sees the potential this team possesses. “I think the future looks really promising. We’re still early in the season and a lot of players are just getting used to playing with each other.” This year’s field hockey team is filled with individual talent, which Hope believes needs time to come together and produce team success on the field. Once these players connect and learn to use each other’s abilities to better the team, Hope sees no reason why the Green Terror cannot be a strong force in the Centennial Conference.
Hope Battista has experienced two extremes in the collegiate sporting world these past two years. She has experienced the bloodthirsty environment of Division I athletics, and the more relaxed pace of Division III competition. The differences between these two really illustrate how the phrase “student-athlete” can take on two very different connotations. Like Hope, thousands of student athletes are fortunate enough to be highly recruited to play in the upper echelon of collegiate sports. Unfortunately, in Division I it appears the student aspect of athletes is often forgotten and certainly not promoted by many. The glory of championships and perhaps most importantly, sponsorships and prize money outweigh the glories of receiving an A in the classroom. After discovering the frenzied lifestyle Hope endured at Georgetown, one has to wonder what we are preparing our college athletes for in the long run. A microscopic percentage of college athletes have the opportunity to pursue professional careers, so one would think the focus of a student-athlete should truly be on his or her studies.
Once Hope transferred to McDaniel, she surely discovered that on the Hill, the primary focus is obtaining a great education. Hope’s practice and game schedule is certainly more manageable, her coaches are more accessible and her teammates share her desire for preparing for a future in the real world. Division III athletics have found a delicate balance between sports and academics. Division III’s philosophical statement begins with the following:
“Colleges and universities in Division III place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students’ academic programs” (NCAA.org).
McDaniel has embraced and lived up to this fundamental belief of Division III schools. Hope, along with the thousands of Division III athletes, are benefitting from this idealistic approach to the student-athlete persona. Those of us who are fortunate enough to take part in sports here at McDaniel can be confident in our abilities as we prepare to set forth into the working world. McDaniel has and will continue to prepare each and every student-athlete to become the best human being possible on and off of the playing field by placing them in classrooms with dedicated and compassionate professors. After the final whistle blows and your time at McDaniel is up, it is this philosophy that sets so many young adults up for a lifetime of success.