Some athletes only come to an NCAA institution because they aren't yet eligible for a professional draft. They are the one-and-dones, the early-exits, and the future superstars. But even though they take up a large percentage of the national TV time, these ESPN darlings make up a very small proportion of the total pool of college athletes.
A very, very high percentage of student-athletes will never play a professional game. A majority of student-athletes are students who happen to love to play a game. Nowhere is this more true than at the D3 level.
D3 games aren't on TV. D3 teams rarely play in front of sold out crowds. They don't have access to world-class training facilities, nutritionists, or personal trainers. They don't even get scholarships. D3 athletes play for the love of the game.
This video from the Ohio Wesleyan women's soccer team embodies everything great about D3 sports, and shows what players are willing to do to win when no one is watching.
Ohio Wesleyan finished 7-10 last season, which may not seem like something to get overly excited about, but represents a huge improvement for a team that won two games over the past two seasons combined. So there's definitely cause for optimism.
Battling Bishops head coach Nicole Ross told HERO Sports that even though her players are from all over the country (eight states are represented in the roster), many have found internships near the Columbus area this summer and will stay to train together.
Coach Ross first emphasized how much her student-athletes care about their academic careers, and explained that's why they have to put in work on their own. "[…] in order to compete, athletes must be intrinsically motivated to train and develop on their own," coach Ross said. "We made this video to show that at Ohio Wesleyan you can have it all. You can study the most rigorous majors the University offers and graduate in 4 years, play in a unique soccer-only facility, but you have to be committed to putting in the work when no one is watching."
Coach Ross said the team lost a large group of seniors this offseason, but among the 12 players who played at least 16 games last season, eight will be back with the team.
"Almost all of our major contributors are returning, plus we are adding 14 freshmen," coach Ross said. "We named captains after the fall season, so rising seniors Brooke Zinader and Bailee Bonnano and rising junior Mack Brunke have been taking the lead this offseason."
Ohio Wesleyan will be ready for the 2017 season. They're putting in work to guarantee it.