Prospective athletes often discover college sports are much different than they imagined.
By Abigail Pautz
Hubbub surrounds the sports world. Whether in little league, middle school, high school or college there is always some type of miscommunication. Athletes have been promised to play on a team here at Bethel and then have gotten cut or did not get the playing time they expected.
Division III sports programs are extremely different from division one programs because of scholarships and the terms and conditions for quitting or getting cut by the team. In a Division I program the athlete signs a document to formally say they will be a part of the team, but the coach does not have any obligation to play the athlete. In Division III sports the athlete does not sign any document and is not required to play for the team. This also means the coach is not required to play the athlete. Due to Bethel being a Division III school, athletes need to recognize that anyone can play on the team if they’re talented enough.
“College athletics is different than high school athletics,” said baseball coach Brian Raabe. “If you are here to play college baseball you’ve got to be pretty good.”
As a result of Bethel being a Division III athletic school, a lot of prospective student athletes planning on playing at a sport at the collegiate level usually schedule a meeting with a coach when they come to tour the school. During that meeting, coaches will meet with the player to get to know them on a personal level. After that meeting, the athlete may fill out a recruitment form. Coaches usually instruct prospective athletes to consider Bethel as a whole university, not just a place to play sports, as the sports seasons can be short and different from players’ expectations.
During the entirety of the meeting players can get confused between a coach wanting them to play on a team and a coach wanting them to choose Bethel because they think it is where the student should be for growth in faith and education. Prospective students and or athletes will try out for the team with the chance of getting cut, not getting to play as much as they are used to and not having the same role or position they had on a previous team.
“If the Lord took football away from you would you still be here?” -Steve Johnson, football coach.
Because of this football coach Steve Johnson asks prospective athletes “If the Lord took football away from you would you still want to be here?”
Some sports can absorb more athletes, but in sports like basketball or volleyball where there are only a small number of athletes playing on the court at a time the team is naturally smaller. There are some junior varsity teams, club teams or even intramurals teams at Bethel as other options for athletes that are unhappy with their playing time or role on the team, sports like track and field, football and cross country have more wiggle room when it comes to the number of athletes rostered to the team, since they are not as limited by the number of players competing at one time.
Volleyball coach Gretchen Hunt said that “we don’t cut when they get here, we cut on the front end of the process.” This gives the athlete ample time to consider their other options here at Bethel or take their talents elsewhere.
Although Bethel is a Division III school it is still an extremely competitive playing field. Athletes playing for Bethel need to do the absolute best they can, and that includes recognizing that it could mean not playing as much or playing a different position than what they are used to.