Division III athletics isn’t high profile, extremely lucrative or commercially appealing.
Division III athletes do not receive athletic scholarships.
There is nothing in it for athletes but the love of the game.
Only a tiny fraction of those athletes have a chance to go professional or transfer to a bigger school with a higher-level athletic program.
But for those who don’t have that realistic chance, how far can your love for a sport really take you, especially when your team isn’t all that good?
At Rutgers-Camden, many of the student athletes, such as sophomore Lacrosse player Sarah Boucot, take great pride in the sports that they play. The school boasts a lot of great teams that have experienced a great deal of success.
The soccer team, under National Coach of the Year Tim Oswald, has propelled itself into one of the nation’s premier teams accumulating a 75-14-8 record over the past four seasons that have included four trips to the NCAA tournament and a national championship game appearance in 2013.
The baseball team has risen to a similar type of success under the leadership of third-year coach Dennis Barth, winning 30 games last year and notching the program’s first regional bid and New Jersey Athletic Conference regular season championship.
There are also those teams that never enjoyed that type of success, although the enthusiasm of the athletes is just as high.
For instance, the Rutgers-Camden women’s Lacrosse team has had a tough year.
Up to this point, they have only won one of their first nine games this season.
Because of inexperience throughout the roster, the team has had to compete against seasoned NJAC competition as well as formidable in-conference opponents without much success, getting off to a frustrating start.
Despite this rocky start and outlook on the season, they continue to play — and have fun playing the game that they love, even if they aren’t getting the outcome they hoped for.
Sarah Boucot, a sophomore midfielder, is one of the players whose love for the game seems to supersede the fact that her team isn’t doing so well this season.
Asked why she still continues to play, even though her team is losing, she leaned on her love of the game and her teammates for her answer.
“I still love playing lacrosse and playing with my team even though we are losing a lot,” said Boucot, “it’s really frustrating but we all still enjoy playing with one another.”
A lot can truly be said about continuing to have that mindset even though your team isn’t doing well on the playing field. Many athletes, especially at this level, wouldn’t want to continue spending most of their time and putting in so much hard work to not be able to win games.
What’s the incentive? Is it just being able to play alongside your friends or is it a true love for the game that continues to drive them? It’s hard to fathom that, even at the Division III level, an athlete can still possess that type of pride and persistence to continue on, even in the bleakest of circumstances.
Even though the team is going through a rebuilding period, players are getting valuable on-field experience as those inexperienced underclassmen who are learning the ropes the hard way will be seasoned veterans next season.
It can turn out that their persistence and love for the game and each other will prove to be the factors that will eventually allow them to win and win big.
But as of now, it’s about weathering the storm and getting through this as a team.
From the mindset of Boucot, it seems that they will eventually be in good shape and add winning to the pleasures of the game.