The New D-III Mindset

image courtesy to Ursinus Field hockey

Ava Compagnoni (

Another school year is upon us. However, is the promise of a D-3 balance of athletics, academics, and social life being kept? While student-athletes at Ursinus did commit to be athletes, it sometimes feels like athletics take precedence over their social experience. Sunday, a designated homework ‘Sunday Scaries’ and relaxation day, has been threatened early this semester.

The first weekend back to school, three women’s teams could not attend social outings happening on or off campus due to athletics. Field Hockey was traveling on Saturday, September 3rd for a game at noon on Sunday September 4th. Volleyball, while successful in their 3-0 sweep in New York, departed campus at noon on Thursday, September 1st, and returned Sunday, September 4th at 5pm. Finally, Women’s Soccer departed campus early Sunday September 4th for a match-up against Stevenson. The world does not come crashing down for these types of scheduling conflicts, but the athletes who could not celebrate the reunion on campus with their friends felt slighted. 

In addition to the social implications of Sunday games, there are academic ramifications. After spending a long weekend team bonding and celebrating wins, senior volleyball team member Ashley Kelly recalled returning to her dorm on Sunday night with all work and no play. “It was a great weekend, we were successful in our competition and participated in a few non-athletic tours around New York. However, when I finally got back into my room, there was no time for relaxation and I had to finish all of my homework,” expressed Kelly. Don’t worry, she made it to her Monday morning class on time and with her homework finished. But this was after a mandatory 7 AM run test for the team in the Helfferich Gym! This type of athletic rigor is productive for a team’s success, as Volleyball has shown by going undefeated so far as of September 12th. Similarly, Field Hockey had a mandatory 6:30 AM on Monday, September 5th, after a Saturday practice and Sunday game. 

While no academic concerns have surfaced thus far in the 2022 season, the NCAA D-III manual states, “It is the responsibility of each member institution to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete’s activities are conducted with the appropriate primary emphasis on the student-athlete’s academic experience” (NCAA DIII Manual 2022-2023). With 89 student-athletes named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll in the Fall of 2021, keeping up such statistics may be an important evaluation of the school-sport balance. 

Historically, Sunday game days come only occasionally, and can be a humbling reminder to student-athletes that their sport takes priority over their social experience. Scheduling should continue to take this into consideration.

The rule of thumb in the hierarchy of D3 athletics goes, respectively: academics, athletics, social. Compared to many other highly competitive D3 schools, Ursinus has done a decent job of keeping the trifecta balanced for their student-athletes. In the coming years, will Sunday noon game-days become the new norm? With such a prominent population of student-athletes on campus, will this alter the social scene of Ursinus College?