20 for 20: Student-Athletes and Their Division III Experiences

Sophomore Kenny Duncan. (Glenn Cline Photo)
Sophomore Kenny Duncan. (Glenn Cline Photo)


By: Sam Wentz

Also Contributing: Chelsea Kempton, Luke Wills


It's what we call the "And Experience" here at Capital University. It's the opportunity to participate in the competition of Division III athletics, while bettering ourselves as individuals and students of the university.


Division III athletics is a unique chance to continue an athletic career while still having the full ability to excel in the classroom and even have time for a social life. For any athlete at Capital University, it's all about the AND.


In honor of the celebration of the NCAA's Division III Week, 20 student-athletes from all 20 varsity sports were asked to give their input on their Division III experience and life at Capital University.


Let's find out what it's like.


1. What is your favorite game from this year? Why?​

Maggie Donnellan, Senior (WSOC)
"I can't say that I have a favorite game because our season was so intense and different from our other seasons. But I have favorite games from different parts of the season. Beating Otterbein the first time gave us the regular season championship. Otterbein came out really tough and we managed to score and give them no goals, so that game was a favorite. I would have to say that playing Washington St. Louis (in the NCAA quarterfinals) was special as well. We came together as a group and did so incredible. We went to a shoot out to win the game and go to the semifinals. I stopped three shots and made my own and that game will forever hold a special part in my heart. If we had not come together as a team and unit we would not have accomplished any of these feats."


Simonne Gage, Sophomore (WBB)

"My favorite game this year would have been the OAC championship against one of our conference rivals Ohio Northern. It was because we had lost to them all year and it was the final game and we had been waiting to beat them. It was just a fun game and a crazy environment and the best part of it all was that we won!"


2. Why did you choose D3 athletics? 

Alyssa Trier, Junior (WT)

"I wanted to continue to play tennis in college, but I also wanted to have the full college experience. School is the most important aspect of college, and D3 athletics allow me to focus on my schoolwork while playing the sport that I love at the same time."


Chase Woods, Freshman (MLAX)

"The reason that I chose D3 athletics was that I wanted the opportunity to play a sport (lacrosse) and still be able to make school my first priority. To me my education comes first. Also, there are almost triple the D3 schools in lacrosse than there are Divisions 1 or 2. So this gives me the opportunity to play more schools, meet more people and network with these people for future jobs because they shared the same or similar experience as I did.


"I want to be a college lacrosse coach. It has been my dream since I was a child, so one of the major reasons that I chose D3 athletics was that I honestly thought that it would afford me the best opportunity to make my dream come true."


3.  What is your favorite part about your coach and/or team?

Kenny Duncan, Junior (MTEN)

 "My favorite part about my coach is the enthusiasm he brings to practice and matches. He is truly passionate about our improvement as players. My favorite part about my team is how close we are as friends on and off the court. Our strong chemistry makes traveling to and from matches a lot of fun."


Kitty Smith, Senior (WT/F)

"My favorite part about my team is how tight knit we are. You come into every season as a new team with people you don't know and somewhere throughout the struggle of 7 a.m. weights, long workouts and hours upon hours spent at meets you become a family. My teammates will push me to perform my best, pick me up when I'm down, support all of my goals and celebrate with me when I've succeeded. There's something special about the bond you make when you are pushed to the limit of your physical and mental ability with a team day in and day out because you share one common goal – to win. 


"As for our coaching staff, I love the personal relationships I have built with them. Seeing how excited they are after you receive a new personal record or win your event makes you want to perform well, not only for yourself and your teammates, but for your coaches too. That relationship extends past the track though. I know that I can go to any one of my coaches with any issues I have whether it is related to track, school or my personal life, and they will be there to help and support me any way they can. The sense of family that I have built with my team and my coaches is what makes being a student-athlete worthwhile."


4. What ultimately made you choose Capital?

Aly McGinnis, Junior (WGOLF)

"I guess the main reason I chose Capital initially was because I was given the opportunity to continue my golf career. I'd been given other offers to play collegiate golf but I think I gravitated toward Capital because it was close to home and my parents, who have been a large part of my athletics, could come and watch me play. In the fall of my junior year I decided to pursue a pre-design degree at OSU after applying to the program on a whim (never actually thinking I'd be accepted). Although I loved my experiences at OSU and was accepted into the main program after the fall semester, I realized that I'd left a lot of myself at Capital. I've created a lot of great relationships with my teammates, students and professors at Cap and I don't think I fully appreciated them until I found myself on a campus that was flooded with thousands of people."


Korri Titus, Freshman (WLAX)

"What ultimately made me choose Capital was a combination of the small campus and my awesome coach. Capital was the perfect size for me and was an easy transition from high school to college. It made it really easy for me to settle in. Capital is such a beautiful campus and I love all that is available on Main Street which is practically on campus. My coach drew me towards choosing Capital because she has such a great personality and plan for "year one" of women's lacrosse season. Knowing that this would be the first year for women's lacrosse really interested me and made me want to be a part of the first year ever. I wanted to come and be a part of a new team with a record as close to perfect as possible. Coach Wood cares about this program so much and it's awesome to have a coach so involved and so committed to her team. It really makes a difference in the way the team performs.


"Even though I got offers at other schools that could have offered me money to play there, I still chose Division 3. I chose Division 3 because I love the game but didn't want to make it my life. I wanted to get a great education and still participate in lacrosse. With Division 3, it's the perfect balance of academics and athletics for me."


5. What is your favorite Capital memory?

Mark Williams, Senior (MGOLF)
"I would say sophomore year at OAC Championships was my favorite memory. We were not supposed to be very good, but we beat every team in the final two rounds to finish third overall. That weekend showed that Cap men's golf was back on the map. Before that we were one of the worst teams in the OAC, now we are consistently near the top. Individually, we had a player (Clay Rice) finish third in that tournament and I finished sixth. We both won All-OAC honors. Showing Otterbein that we are a threat for the future was a great feeling."


Mitch Stith, Senior (MXC)

"I would have to say that my favorite memory of Capital University came last year during my junior cross country season. During a meet at Oberlin College, every member of the team completed the 8,000 meter race in less than 30 minutes. This was an exciting day because our team had not achieved this in almost three years, and for me it really showed how much all of our hard work was paying off.​"


6. What is the best part about being a student-athlete?

Kelly Leonard, Junior (VB)

"The best part about being a student-athlete is being able to develop skills through my sport that I use on a daily basis. Being able to have an "and" experience – to get a great education as well as have a great athletic career – has allowed me to grow in a way through college I wouldn't have had without being an athlete."


Caitlin Prange, Senior (WT/F)

"The best part about being a student-athlete was the experiences and people I've met. I have had the opportunity to travel to difference campuses and even states. Many of my teammates are now my best friends. I gained a family. However, for me personally the best part about track was sharing this experience with my dad. He has been my biggest fan and supporter. We have created such a strong bond over sports and it brings him so much joy to watch me run. I will truly miss being able to have our post meet talks. Track has taught me so much about myself and plenty of life lessons such as hard work, dedication, patience and how to communicate with others. One of my best decisions in college was to continue my sports career on the track."


7. What does the #capfam mean to you?

Maura Rose, Junior (SB)

 "At first I thought #capfam was going to be another saying that wouldn't last, but it did. I never would have predicted that it would become a huge thing. Everyone on campus uses it. It's not just for a certain group of students. #capfam has become like an identity to us. We are CAPFAM!"


Nate Campbell, Senior (BB)

"The #capfam to me means everything that this school is about. It means a close-knit environment built upon successes both in athletics and in academics."


8. What is your favorite thing about Capital University?

Mike Augustine, Senior (MBB)

 "My favorite thing about Capital University is the small atmosphere. Whether it be in the classroom with my professors or walking through campus with my classmates. Being able to smile and say hello to the majority of the community here or hold a conversation with my professors consistently outside of class is a great attribute. Most kids leaving from high school or even larger school college students may not realize this, causing them to take small relationships like this for granted."


Tony Macioce, Senior (MSOC)

"My favorite part of Capital University is the family atmosphere. I like that my professors have gotten to know me. Also, I have found that professors are willing to help students with things other than course work. (i.e. internships, jobs, etc.). It's nice to know that you're more than just a number at Capital University."


9. How was your Capital recruiting experience/introduction into Capital athletics?

Chase Longwell, Freshman (FB)

"My recruiting process here at Capital was amazing! I originally got a late start with the whole process with Capital due to the fact that last year we got a whole new coaching staff. When I was exchanging phone calls and talking to the coaches in person, I knew right away that these were the coaches that I wanted to play for. There were still questions whether I wanted to come to Capital or go to another school I was really interested in that I had already visited. I eventually came on a campus tour here at Capital and then had my overnight visit. That's when I knew that I could call Capital my home for the next four years. I fell in love with it right away and never turned back.​"


Travon Bodrick, Junior (MT/F)

"I was not recruited by Capital to run track & field, however when I came to visit Capital for the second time during my senior year of high school, my dad and I took a trip to the athletic office to meet the track coach because I had a strong desire to run track in college. Fred Barends, the track coach at the time, greeted me and we immediately connected as he started asking questions about where I was from and what events I did. One thing that I did take away from Coach Barends was that he wanted my No. 1 priority once I got into college to be having a balance of academics and athletics. At a Division 3 college you don't always have the luxury of creating a class schedule that perfectly fits when you want to go to class on top of working around a rigorous practice schedule when you are in season. I accepted the expectations that would be required of me to be an athlete at Capital and from day one. The teammates I've competed with, the friends that I've made and the memories I'll never forget have all contributed to making my entry into Capital athletics more than worth it."


10. How do you balance academics with athletics?

Gretchen Sauder, Freshman (WXC)

"When I was looking at colleges, a coach I met with sat me down and told me that in four years my competitive cross country and track careers would end. As I faced the very real fact that I would no longer run competitively once I graduated I decided to put my full efforts into running now, while at the same time pushing myself in my academics so that after four years, I would be able to move on to a career. While this is a hard juggling act, coming to a D3 school allowed me to balance it.


"As I work to be both a student and an athlete, my coaches and professors have been supportive along the way, running practices early so I can make it to class, or meeting with me outside of class to catch me up if I miss for a meet. While both coaches and professors demand the most out of you, the qualities of hard work, communication and dedication all combine to complement each other in both fields. All of these qualities add up to provide the key for the balancing act – time management. It isn't unusual to see me whip out my chemistry book at a track meet or give my oral communication speech to my teammates while I run. Staying ahead and giving 100 percent to what you are doing are perfect ways to keep the two on an even scale, as a balance is possible. Our AD, Dr Bruning, summed it up well last night in his speech at the Capspy Awards, when he said, "going to Capital isn't just being a student or an athlete, it's having an "AND" experience of being both a student AND an athlete."


Paul Baker, Senior (MT/F)

"I balance academics and athletics the only way someone pursuing a chemistry degree, biochemistry degree, physics minor, and ACS certification can: staying disciplined with time management and not falling suspect to those who live easy lives entailing multiple party nights during the week. As much as I wish I had time to take easy classes, party during the week and really "flourish" with free time, I'd rather know that I could pull off my "easy" curriculum and compete in sports on the collegiate level to feel like I actually completed college with a purpose other than ruining my liver from acetaldehyde poisoning (you must know science to understand that)."