April 5, 2018

My #WhyD3: James Black (Johnson) & Mark Marsolais (Thomas)

The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) 10 member institutions are participating in the NCAA Division III Week (April 2-8), which is a celebration of the division’s unique philosophy that equally values academics, athletics and student-athletes’ involvement in a full and rich campus life. Division III Week provides an opportunity for all individuals associated with a Division III institution or conference to recognize the powerful impact of athletics on their lives, their campus and the surrounding communities.

Throughout Division III Week, the NAC will be releasing a daily feature titled "My #WhyD3." The conference has gathered a variety of individuals willing to answer some questions relating to their personal Division III experiences. The NAC will feature a variety of conference members, from current and former student-athletes to faculty members to administrators and coaches.

Follow all of the DIII Week stories being told across the country by checking out the Twitter hashtag #D3week and if you want to tell a Division III story of your own, use the Twitter hashtag #whyd3.

Thursday, April 5, My #Whyd3: James Black (Johnson FAR) & Mark Marsolais (Thomas FAR)

  • Tuesday, April 3, My #Whyd3: Aaron Smith (Castleton) & Paige Carter (UMaine-Farmington) - click HERE
  • Wednesday, April 4, My #Whyd3: Curtis Warren (Colby-Sawyer) & Lexie Walker (Lyndon) - click HERE



Name: James Black
Current Institution: Johnson State College
Athletic Department Affiliation: Faculty Athletic Representative
Undergraduate Major: Psychology
Graduate Major: M.S Mathematics; Ph.D. Systems Science



Name: Mark Marsolais
Current Institution: Thomas College
Athletic Department Affiliation: Faculty Athletic Representative
Undergraduate Major: Physiological Psychology
Graduate Major: Psychology (M.A.); Criminal Justice (Ph.D.)

What courses do you currently teach?

  • Black: "Accounting, Business, and Computers."
  • Marsolais: “I teach a vast array of criminal justice courses that include: Policing in America, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Overview of the K9 in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security, Homeland Security, Criminal Procedures, Critical Issues in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Law of Evidence, and Police and Use of Force.” 

What does being a Faculty Athletic Representative mean to you?

  • Black: “Represent and communicate athletic department activities to the faculty.”
  • Marsolais: “I find that I function as a negotiator and liaison between Thomas’s Athletic Department and the academic cadre’. I often explain the importance of athletics to the well-being of the institute and its academic goals and submit faculty concerns to the Athletic Department. Also, I am a faculty advocate for the student-athlete.”

Tell us about your experience working with student-athletes.

  • Black: “By and large it is quite good. Student-athletes do well in class because they can work as a team."
  • Marsolais: “My personal experience working with the student-athletes has been very rewarding, and occasionally, demanding. Most of the time, I informally interact with them and listen to how they are doing in balancing their day-to-day academic and athletic activities. Other times, I will speak with an injured student-athlete and make sure that he or she is receiving appropriate accommodations. Infrequently, I will learn of a serious problem with a student-athlete which necessitates me reaching out to Student Services personnel, administrators, and the Director of Athletics.” 

What do you believe is the biggest challenge that current student-athletes face?

  • Marsolais: “I believe the biggest challenge facing student-athletes is balancing the need to do well athletically, academically, and socially.”

What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with student-athletes?

  • Black: “Watching them graduate after a long and difficult struggle.”
  • Marsolais: “I have enjoyed seeing how the student-athlete work ethic and camaraderie displayed on the courts and fields is carried into the academic setting. Most student-athletes are not content with getting by. Instead, they strive to do their best in class and to support one another in doing so. I enjoy their enthusiasm and find it to be contagious.”

Is there any advice you would give to student-athletes that you believe would help them benefit more from their collegiate experience?

  • Black: “Put in as much time and energy in your classes as you do in practice and games.”
  • Marsolais: “I strongly encourage each student-athlete to take some “me time” each semester and go off and think about and appreciate how positive and rewarding it is to be a student-athlete. It doesn’t have to be a long time; just enough time to contemplate the positive aspects of his or her multiple positions and roles at Thomas – a representative and ambassador for the college, an essential member to a team, a role model to younger student-athletes, a brother or sister to his or her teammates, and a positive representative of his or her family (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) and community from which he or she came.”

More information on Division III Week:

For resources regarding NCAA Division III Week click HERE.

Any institutions that are celebrating DIII Week should submit their activities to the NCAA by clicking HERE.

Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement.

During NCAA Division III Week, every member institution and conference is encouraged to schedule at least one activity, which celebrates an aspect of the Division III student-athlete experience, from these three categories:

  • Academic accomplishment, including activities such as taking time during a game to acknowledge student-athlete academic achievement, or asking teams to select a faculty member to serve as a guest coach for a practice or competition.
  • Athletics activity, including conducting events such as a youth sports clinic or competition, or scheduling recognition of school teams’ or individuals’ athletics accomplishments during a game.
  • Community or campus outreach, such as scheduling a community-service activity during the week, or participating in an event involving a local chapter of Special Olympics as part of Division III’s partnership with that organization.

Follow all of the DIII Week stories being told across the country by checking out the Twitter hashtag #D3week and if you want to tell a Division III story of your own, use the Twitter hashtag #whyd3