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NCAA Division III Week Celebrates Student-Athletes

This article originally appeared in The Daily Item on 4/11/13.

This week, April 8-15, is NCAA Division III Week. It is a week to celebrate the philosophy and educational values of that athletic division and the student-athletes who represent approximately 447 NCAA Division III institutions.

The largest grouping within the NCAA’s membership, Division III reflects the purest form of intercollegiate athletic competition. As there are no athletic scholarships, all athletes compete for the love of sport. Indeed, the NCAA philosophy states colleges and universities in Division III place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students’ academic programs.

Susquehanna University is a proud founding member of NCAA Division III. More than 550 student-athletes represent Susquehanna on 23 intercollegiate teams. Collectively, these student-athletes represent 25 percent of our student body. Susquehanna supports intercollegiate athletics because we value it as a rich part of cocurricular life that brings many educational benefits to its participants.

Our campus is a better place because of our extraordinary student-athletes. In the spirit of NCAA Division III week, let me share with you some brief background on five such student-athletes who bring all of us at Susquehanna great pride.

Emily Stankaitis, who came to Susquehanna from the Rochester, N.Y. area, is a psychology major and a four-year starter on our women’s lacrosse team. Last year she was named an All-American, a title that suits her as Emily is truly an all-American. Her academic talents—she has 3.75 GPA—and athletic gifts are matched by musical ones; she plays the clarinet in the university’s band. Emily plans to spend a year in New Zealand, interning in the field of counseling or social work. When she returns to the States, she expects to pursue a master’s degree in one of the two fields.

Chadd Lee, a four-year standout on our men’s swimming and diving team, was named the Landmark Conference’s Men’s Swimming Senior Scholar-Athlete for 2012-13 on April 3. A member of the Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll, the Bloomsburg, Pa. native is an Honors Program student at Susquehanna and has made the dean’s list every semester in which he has been eligible. In 2011-12, he was named a CSCAA Individual Scholar All-American and for three consecutive years has been named to the Landmark Conference All-Academic Team. A biology major with minors in chemistry and health care studies, he has a current GPA of 3.91 and will attend Jefferson Medical College next year.

Chadd’s swimming and diving teammate Devin Lessard became Susquehanna’s first female swimming All-American last month. Devin was the Landmark Conference Swimmer of the Year both her junior and senior years after having been named the Freshman of the Year during her inaugural season at Susquehanna. A native of Chestertown, Md., Devin set an extraordinary dedication in training during her senior season. The psychology major devoted additional practice time and cross-training, and completely altered her diet.

Dual-sport athletes at the collegiate level are very rare, but Ainsley Rossitto of Hartford, Conn., has been a member of both our women’s basketball and lacrosse teams for each of the last four years. To have excelled in both at a highly competitive level is a testimony to Ainsley’s athletic ability and her heart. An excellent student majoring in international studies and English, Ainsley spent last summer interning in Washington, D.C. at The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, where she promoted awareness of the practice of torture nationally and internationally. That work inspired her senior capstone project exploring media representation of U.S.-sponsored torture after September 11, 2001. In the fall, Ainsley will move to England to work as an instructor and coach with the English Lacrosse Association, working around the country to recruit young players and grow the sport.

Another two-sport Susquehanna student-athlete is Ken Schetroma. An education major hailing from Elysburg, Pa., Ken has been a four-year starter on our football team where he earned numerous accolades for his outstanding play including being named Centennial Conference All Conference First Team Defense this fall and playing in the Tazon de Estrellas Division III All-Star Game in Guadalajara, Mexico . Ken has also been a stand-out on our track and field team, holding two school records. He was named the Landmark Conference Field Athlete of the Year four times. Ken will be a great teacher and coach and I hope will find a home in our area.

These five student-athletes and their teammates are wonderful exemplars as we seek to prepare our students to lead productive, creative and reflective lives of achievement, leadership and service in a diverse and interconnected world. I am very proud of Susquehanna athletics and am grateful to our coaches, faculty, staff, parents and alumni who support our student-athletes.

Susquehanna seeks to live out the honorable ideals of NCAA Division III through these important educational experiences, acquired through participation in teams on ball fields and playing courts, where individuals learn from playing together and through the challenges of winning and losing.

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