As we celebrate DIII week, we will take an opportunity to feature an accomplished cadet-athlete who has excelled on and off the field in the Division III environment.
Senior Daria McKenna is a captain and four year varsity letter for the Coast Guard women's lacrosse team. As the program enters its fourth year at the Division III level, McKenna becomes the four year player to graduate from the program. She has battled through her first three years where the team has won a total of nine games to this season where the team currently sits at 8-2 on the year.
"Coast Guard lacrosse became a Division III program when I entered the Academy in 2014, and I am extremely proud to have been a part of the program from the start," said McKenna. "Regardless of how the team performed in its forming years, I have always felt support from the community and the Corps of Cadets. Throughout my four years as a varsity athlete, I have been given the opportunity to develop personal relationships with my teammates that will remain with me as I begin my career in the fleet."
McKenna looked at a number of Division I schools during her junior year in high school but quickly realized that her other interests and talents would have to take a backseat if she wanted to continue her playing career.
"I picked Division III because I knew I would have an opportunity to develop as both an athlete and a student," commented McKenna. "After attending some junior days at DI schools, I realized that playing lacrosse would have to be my primary focus. A balance between academics, sports and the arts has always defined me, and I knew that I would be happiest at a school where I did not have to choose just one."
Like classmate Raeford Penny said earlier this week, McKenna enjoys the opportunity that sports gives the athletes at the Academy as teammates can interact with one another freely and she can continue to nurture and form her leadership skills.
"Athletics at Coast Guard provide a much needed release from the Academic and military requirements," added McKenna. "In an environment where personal relationships are regulated, being a member of a team allows you to break down the barriers that exist with Chase Hall and get to know one another a little bit better. There is also a unique leadership experience to be gained by being a member of a team and experiencing the highs and lows of a competitive season together."
McKenna understand the value of being a Division III athlete and respects the athletes that shared the field with her over her four years.
"Playing Division III is a privilege because you are playing with people who truly love the game. It takes passion and commitment to choose to play competitively when there are so many other responsibilities on your plate. Stepping onto the field knowing that you are surrounded by men and women just like you is a uniting experience."
McKenna and her teammates are back in action Saturday, April 7th, when they host the Springfield Pride is NEWMAC action. Opening draw is 1:00 pm.
MORE ON DIII WEEK
WHAT IS DIVISION III WEEK?:
Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement.
HOW DID DIVISION III WEEK COME TO BE?:
The event is part of Division III's Identity Initiative, which was introduced in 2010 to sharpen the division's identity and to enable schools and conferences to more effectively explain why they prefer to compete in Division III. The initiative has been guided by a strategic-positioning platform, describing Division III as a place where student-athletes can "follow your passions and develop your potential," within an approach that combines rigorous academics, competitive sports and an opportunity to pursue other interests.
In Division III, we realize that the classroom is the primary setting for preparing student-athletes. However, Division III also understands that academics are more than just GPAs, test scores and majors; it is a comprehensive learning experience that develops successful leaders and professionals. Work with your FAR and faculty to highlight the academic success of your student-athletes.
Passion and sportsmanship are attributes of the "athlete" in the Division III "student-athlete" paradigm. The "athlete" plays for the love of the game, strives for excellence in all facets of life and perseveres through adversity. So, during Division III Week, celebrate the athletic component of our identity – a true homage to the symbiotic relationship of athletics and higher education- by hosting a banquet for your student-athletes or a clinic for local youth teams.