Division 3 athlete looks back on his collegiate career, while an incoming Division 1 athlete looks to the future

inFOCUS

D1 and D3 athletes talk about falling in love with their sport...and their school.

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — On February 25, Marymount University hosted round one of the men’s Atlantic East Basketball Tournament. Senior Taiga Walker, point guard for Marymount’s men’s basketball team, picked the university to stay close to family.

“My brother basically inspired me first because growing up he was like my role model so that sort of sparked my interest in playing at the collegiate level,” Walker said. He also picked Marymount for its competitive cybersecurity major; a field he says might not have been possible at a division one school.

Walker has friends who play at D1 schools, who are often forced to prioritize basketball over their academics. “Sometimes they can’t really choose what they want to study, and the difference between division three is our schedule is really still around basketball but I get to really study what I love. So that’s the main outcome I really love from division three.”

“Basketball kind of is like a stress reliever in a way, just kind of being able to get on the court and free my mind, so being a division three athlete really gives me that balance,” said Walker.

The game is also an outlet for Marymount junior Aidan Phillips, who’s balancing a nursing degree and a spot on the women’s basketball team. “Marymount had what I wanted to do with nursing, and a lot of other schools I found weren’t as flexible and open to the possibility of doing both of those — basketball and nursing — where here, [my coach] was really open to it.”

“Playing D3, you really get to pursue your career and pursue any major that you want and have people playing at a high level who also love the game just like you,” Phillips said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity.”

This fall, Woodgrove High School senior Gabrielle Brohard will be running on Liberty University’s division one women’s track team. She fell in love with the school way before the track team — she gave collegiate running a shot when she participated in a summer track camp the summer before her junior year. “They all seemed really happy and they all loved the coach a lot. It was like a big family,” Brohard said.

She isn’t too worried about the academic balance because of that support she’s seen. “They have counselors that work specifically with the track team to make sure you’re balanced in your classes.”

The Marymount men’s basketball team celebrated their senior night the weekend before the tournament. Walker says the end of the season is bittersweet. “I think I’ll be upset when the season ends and stuff like that but I think it’ll be different from when my high school season ended compared to now because I see competing at a division three level (or just in college in general) as an accomplishment rather than something I’ll be really sad on when I graduate.”

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