DIII Week Celebrates Oberlin’s Resilient Student Athletes

Last week Oberlin College celebrated Division III Week, a tradition observed since 2010 by colleges around the country with NCAA Division-III programs. Campuses put on events and programs over the course of a week that celebrate and recognize the impact of athletic programs and the accomplishments of student-athletes. The NCAA encourages all members of a college community to participate in the events to capture the true spirit of DIII. 

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee organized Oberlin’s DIII Week calendar, which included a meditation activity, an anxiety management workshop, a trivia day, and a craft carnival with free food among other events. College fourth-years and SAAC co-chairs Maddison Paladino and Luke Buck had huge roles in putting the week together. 

When planning, we try to make the athletes understand that their participation in a Division III sport is a fantastic feat and something that should be celebrated,” Paladino said. “To put on these events means a lot — especially this year. With COVID-19, athletes have gotten the short end of the stick.” 

She talked about how tough it has been for student-athletes at Oberlin who had their entire fall season and most of the spring season canceled — but she believes they have persevered and continued to work hard amid uncertainty.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of this community, and to be able to have an integral part in the week of celebration for these people has been an honor,” Paladino said. “After weeks of planning, watching the athletes and students enjoy the events is really rewarding.”

Division III Week came just days after Oberlin resumed intercollegiate competition for varsity sports. Oberlin’s baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s tennis, and track and field teams all had competitions during the week, adding to the celebratory atmosphere.

“It was awesome to be able to have events to celebrate our athletes, as we went an entire year without in-person athletic competition,” Buck said. “Our spring athletes finally getting to compete after losing their entire season last year made this one very sweet.”

Buck also emphasized the importance of DIII Week as a time where student-athletes are celebrated for their contributions to the Oberlin community. 

“I hope people realize how special it is to be a DIII athlete,” he said. “Our athletes balance academics, athletics, and countless other responsibilities, and I hope they realize how awesome they are.”