How does NCAA Division III work?
The GIST: As we’ve written before, DIII athletes aren’t eligible for athletic scholarships, which means all 18K of ’em play purely for the love of the game. There are 438 DIII schools nationwide, and although it’s rare for DIII athletes to go pro, it’s certainly not unheard of, with recent grads doing so from fútbol to football.
The repeat champs: Six teams ran it back last season to take consecutive national titles. Most impressive? Middlebury’s women, who won a second straight women’s lacrosse championship and fifth field hockey ’ship in a row. Petition to rename Vermont the Stick Sports State…
- Although Augsburg’s 2023 national wrestling title isn’t technically a repeat, it still gave déjà vu: Either the Auggies or Wartburg have won every ’ship since 1995. Holy moly.
The first-timers: On the flip side, a staggering 12 DIII teams hoisted national hardware for the first time last year, including MIT’s men who raced to titles in cross country and outdoor track & field. How do you like
them apples those Beaver boys?
The buzzer beaters: Plenty of championships were decided by inches, like when Trine softball took their first ’ship thanks to third baseman Scarlett Elliott’s walk-off single to cap pitcher Alexis Michon’s complete game shutout. Wins from Hobart in men’s hockey, Christopher Newport in men’s hoops, and Johns Hopkins in women’s cross country were also down-to-the-wire dubs.
- But the wildest one? The women’s hockey championship, which took three overtimes (!!!) for Gustavus Adolphus to claim 2–1, thanks to forward Kaitlyn Holland’s gritty game-winner. Go, Gusties, go.
Our fave moment: This Gatorade bath. When friend of The GIST Julianne Sitch led the UChicago men’s soccer team to their first natty, she became the first female head coach to win an NCAA men’s title. Sitch, now head of Denver’s DI women’s soccer program, shouted out DIII programs when we spoke with her last month.
- “It was really cool to see the student-athletes really persevere academically, studying abroad, and being involved in different camps and clinics and campus clubs,” Sitch explained. “[There are] different opportunities and, at the end of the day, it’s about finding the right fit.”