My oldest son had the opportunity to play basketball AND baseball at D3, before ultimately deciding on just hoops where he was a starter and a captain- graduating Summa Cum Laude at the University of La Verne. He also met his wife at the college and 9 years later they have a beautiful little daughter.
My oldest daughter majored in biology, played hoops, started for two years (is still in the record books), was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes campus rep, worked in Intramurals AND in the Athletic Training Department getting a great introduction to her career - as she is a few months from completing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy after graduating Phi Beta Kappa at University of Redlands.
My youngest daughter ran Track and Cross Country, majored in Liberal Studies, minored in Drama, acted in plays, Studied Theater abroad in London AND competed on the International Debate Team traveling to Oxford, Turkey, and around the United States... She was a Resident Advisor in the dorms and also graduated Summa Cum Laude and first in her class in the College of Education, also at ULV.
The older two had grant-in-aid offers at higher divisions and chose to attend a school in which they could successfully compete in collegiate athletics AND be involved in campus life to achieve their academic goals without pressure from a coach to put their academic pursuits behind those of the program. The youngest played three team sports in high school (as did her older sister) wanted to be involved in campus life and was not going to compete - until the Track Coach convinced her to come out... assuring here she could still meet ALL her educational goals.
The three could NEVER have had that breadth of collegiate experiences at any other level of competition. THAT'S why they play D3.
The following poem was shared at one of my daughters team meetings:
"It's not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making SportsCenter. It's a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our calculus class that we don't even know.--author unknown
We don't practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future sports agent. We don't lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don't run with a future Wimbledon champion; we run with a future CEO. It's a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes 25. But we still play hard. You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don't sign autographs. But we do sign graduate school applications, MCAT exams, and student body petitions. When we miss a kick or strike out, we don't let down an entire state. We only let down our teammates, coaches, and fans.
But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, lift, throw, run, kick, tackle, shoot, dribble, and lift some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students. It's about pride - in ourselves, in our school. It's about our love and passion for the game. And when it's over, when we walk off that court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim ... college athletes."