If you talk to any dedicated high school athlete looking to make the jump to the next level you often hear the same goal: “I want to play at a Division I school.” Young athletes often are quick to dismiss the idea of playing in lower athletic divisions but the reality is not all athletes will be able to play at a NCAA Division I institution. If you are solely looking to play at a Division I school, you are missing out on a variety of different opportunities and experiences provided by Division III or NAIA schools. Although aiming for a Division I school is a good goal you should also try to expand your recruiting search to maximize your chance of playing the sport you love at the next level. Here are six reasons you should be considering lower division institutions.
You Have More Time
Playing a Division I sport can often be a grueling experience as student-athletes often practice and train upwards of 30 hours a week, travel constantly across the country, play various games and tournaments, and balance a full academic load on top of their athletic commitments. If you struggle with balancing your schedule, Division III athletics might be a better option as your schedule is more relaxed with less practice hours, games, and travel between schools.
Although Division III and NAIA schools still have intense competitive environments, they often have more relaxed schedules compared to Division I schools. This provides student-athletes a less stressful environment. Students in these programs find it easier to succeed academically and they find more time to pursue extracurricular activities outside their sport.
More Regional Competition
Lower division athletics often feature schedules which are typically against local and regional opponents yet still have opportunities to compete for national championships. Unlike Division I athletes who are often traveling across the country, athletes at Division III schools are typically playing schools within driving distance. This means athletes are able to spend more time in class and less time on the road.
There Are No Recruiting Restrictions
Unlike Division I schools, DIII coaches can contact recruits without any year to year restrictions. Coaches can communicate with athletes by text, phone, or email with potential recruits at any time during their four years at high school. Dedicated student-athletes will be able to seek out and communicate coaches over the course of their high school career.
Division III & NAIA Institutions Recruit Online
Because of the much smaller budgets of DIII and NAIA division schools, most coaches do not have the ability to travel across the country talking to potential recruits. Many of these coaches rely on online recruiting platforms, like BeRecruited, to reach out to skilled and successful student-athletes that don’t get the same recognition as Division I prospects. You can register for a BeRecruited profile here to connect with our vast network of NCAA college coaches. NCSA also has a comprehensive database of DIII and NAIA coaches. Here is a review of their recruiting service.
NAIA Institutions Can Provide Athletic Scholarships
The recruiting budget of NAIA schools typically have smaller recruiting budgets like Division III schools. However unlike Division III schools, NAIA schools can provide athletic scholarships. In 2013 about 250 NAIA schools awarded over $370,000,000 in athletic scholarships. There are many opportunities available for recruits considering NAIA schools that most student-athletes are unware of so do your research!
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