Over the 2019 D3 Week at Transylvania, TransySports.com is highlighting both the experiences of our Transylvania faculty and staff with past collegiate playing careers at the Division III level and also those of current Pioneer student-athletes.
Senior Graham Smith has set the bar high for his peers on the Transylvania track and field team, but also for Transylvania Athletics as a whole. During the 2019 spring season, Smith threw an NCAA Championship-qualifying distance in the javelin event which at the time was the 7th-longest distance in javelin among all Division III athletes.
During his two years at Transylvania, Smith has been involved in a wide array of experiences in addition to being a member of Pioneer track and field. Smith reflects on his two years and his full range of accomplishments and lessons in the essay below.
Being a student-athlete at Transylvania University is a holistic approach to learning. The academics are challenging and the athletics are also challenging, requiring an intense amount of focus to overcome.
But through the crucible Transylvania presents, a great reward awaits those who overcome the challenge. Balance. I believe with the union of high academia and athletics, Transylvania demands respect that few colleges can provide. I am grateful to have been pushed to my mental and physical limits because I know I can do more than I once thought.
Being a Division III athlete is a labor of love. Without the pressures of athletic scholarships, one can be free to focus on their development and growth as a person. It provides an opportunity to chase one's athletic dreams without distraction. If you are truly dedicated to your sport, the love for the game is one of your basic motivations and the freedom of participating in something you love is priceless.
From my experience, Division III can be as challenging as you want it to be. It can all hinge on the level of your training and preparation. If you prepare to the highest level of competition, Division III does present that challenge.
My experience at Transylvania has taught me how to become adaptable and to strive for balance. Athletics lends itself to be a microcosm of real life, a trial run to test and learn what are your strengths and weaknesses. Pain through growth or pain from an injury. Struggling to find success and the overwhelming feeling of joy when you achieve. Everyone's experience as an athlete is different, but fundamentally being able to adapt to your surroundings and becoming balanced enough to trust a process is invaluable when we stride out into the world to be leaders for our generation and our families.
Being a Division III student-athlete taught me the value of proper time management. Without time management I would have never learned the skills to help me study and prepare for exams. Without time management I would not have learned the skills necessary for balancing my working life and my home life. Without athletics, I would not have learned the value of proper rest and nutrition to be my best self in all avenues of life. I believe collegiate athletics have helped me to become more balanced in all branches of my life; which will help me to become a better son, friend, husband, and coworker in the future.