By Erin Brown, Sports Editor
Last week, April 3-9, the University of Southern Maine and the other Division III schools around the country celebrated Division III week. According to NCAA.com, Division III week came about to define the identity of Division III sports and have schools and conferences explain why they prefer competing in Division III.
To celebrate both Division III week and National Student Athlete Day, which happened on April 6, USM’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) put on yet another great event for the athletes of USM. On Thursday there was a lunch for all athletes on campus recognizing their commitment to USM both on and off the playing field.
SAAC advisor and women’s basketball coach, Samantha Allen, said that the lunch was well received and well attended. Allen said that this week was an opportunity to showcase the outstanding achievements of athletes, teams and coaches.
“We do this every day, but having a dedicated week, perhaps people who are not yet apprised of the value that participation in athletics at the collegiate level has can appreciate the dedication and commitment that goes into it,” Allen said.
Former D3 athlete and current Athletic Director Albert Bean was in attendance for the luncheon, giving a presentation with SAAC officers. Bean is recognized in the Husky Hall of Fame for his years of pitching for USM’s baseball team.
Bean said that his presentation had a consistent message about commitment and representation, as well as work ethic and preparing for life after college.
“D3 week provides us with an opportunity to say thank you,” Bean said, “and recognize the outstanding efforts that our student-athletes make in the classroom, in competition and in the communities we serve. In addition to these responsibilities, many of our student-athletes have both Work Study jobs and employment off campus.”
With 495 current student athletes and hundreds of alumni, USM has burgeoning athletic talent past and present. Some of USMs athlete alumni are Michael Morin, who was a successful wrestler for the Huskies and has returned to coach; Sam Dexter, who was drafted by the White Sox in the 2016 MLB Draft; and Amanda King, a former women’s basketball player who has served as the Performance Coach for the University of Connecticut Women’s basketball team. Those are just a few of many alumni whose athletic experience at USM helped them jump start careers.
The talent of these athletes goes beyond sports. USM prides itself on the personal and academic success of all their current and former athletes off the playing field as well. Just this past fall, 183 of USM’s athletes were named William B. Wise Scholar Athletes.
Athletics and academics are not the only thing these athletes bring to USM.
“They bring community to the university,” Bean said. “Athletics is its own learning community, but it also helps to build community in a more global sense. Athletics is often viewed as the front porch of the university, or at least one of them. They are often the first introduction to the university for many people living in the surrounding area. Our students are engaged with the community and perform countless community service hours in various ways.”
“Our student-athletes clearly love the game and play as a compliment to their academic work and as a part of their overall experience. There are no athletic scholarships in Division III so it’s the love of the game,” Bean said.
During the D3 week, all seven spring sports teams at the University of Southern Maine competed in regular season games. Baseball continues on a two game win streak with a record of 9-7. Women’s lacrosse continues to roll after their 19-9 win over Salem State putting them at 6-2 for the season. Due to inclement weather, softball has yet to play a game since their Florida trip, but the Huskies were fierce competitors in the Sunshine State, going 6-6.