April 3, 2018

My #WhyD3: Aaron Smith (Castleton) & Paige Carter (UMF)

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.

Tuesday, April 3, My #Whyd3: Aaron Smith (Castleton) & Paige Carter (UMaine-Farmington)

Name: Aaron Smith
: Castleton University
Major: Sports Administration
Minor: Business, Coaching
Class: Senior
Varsity Sport: Baseball  
Hometown: Middlebury, Vermont

Name: Paige Carter
Institution: University of Maine at Farmington
Major: Major-Special Education
Minor: Rehabilitation
Certificate Program: English Language Learners (ELLs)
Class: Junior
Varsity Sport: Women’s Basketball
Hometown: South Portland, Maine

What does being a Division III student-athlete mean to you?

  • Smith: “Being a Division III student-athlete is primarily focused around presenting yourself in a professional and positive manner as we represent much more than just ourselves. Here at Castleton we have strong community ties and have a very family oriented institution. We must succeed in the classroom as much if not more than our performance on the field. Academics are of the utmost importance and we strive to improve daily.”
  • Carter: “Being a Division III athlete has been a major part of my life over the past three years. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to play basketball at the college level. I understand that many people dream of this opportunity and I’m very blessed that it’s my reality. When I look back at my college experience, I will have so many memories associated with being a student-athlete. Being a student-athlete at UMF doesn’t just give you teammates or a coach, but a family. I’ve met some great people being a student-athlete at UMF who I think will be lifelong friends.”

How do you balance being a student and an athlete, while maintaining your grades?

  • Smith: “Staying organized and prioritizing is vital to the success of a student-athlete. I find that staying ahead when it comes to assignments is the perfect way to eliminate the chances of cramming days of work into an evening. When we have games during the week, I always plan ahead to get homework done before we depart."
  • Carter: “Finding a balance between being a student and an athlete can be challenging but overall is very rewarding. At UMF, I feel very supported by not only my coach and teammates, but by my peers and professors as well. When I look into the stands at games and see my peers and professors cheering my team on, it is a special feeling. UMF is a community where there is so much support among everyone. Having this kind of support is what makes it possible to balance being a student and an athlete.”

What do you believe are the most important skills to possess when trying to excel on the “field” and in the classroom?

  • Smith: “The most important skill to possess on the field and in the classroom, is the ability to remain level. Never getting too high or too low after a win or a loss is so very important. Whether you have a poor practice or do very well on a test remaining humble and hungry is key. Our Coach preaches that: ‘you are never as bad as you think after a loss and you’re also never as good as you think after a win.’ Staying courteous and level headed is the key to success over a long period of time.” 
  • Carter: “Some of the most important skills to possess when trying to excel on the court and in the classroom are commitment and balance. Being committed to your studies and your sport is very important when trying to improve your performance. In doing this, I know that I am putting in my best effort which will not only help me excel as an individual, but my teammates and peers as well. Maintaining a balance between being a student and being an athlete is also very important when trying to excel on both the court and in the classroom. I think it’s important to take the time to enjoy both being a student and an athlete and the experiences that comes along with both of them.”

Are you involved on your campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)? If yes, why do you believe the formation of this committee is important?

  • Smith: “I have attended many SAAC meetings and find that it is incredibly valuable for student-athletes. It provides us with a voice and a platform to share our ideas while also working together to improve the experience for student-athletes.”   
  • Carter: “I am involved with SAAC at UMF. I became a member last year and was elected by my peers to be the President of UMF’s SAAC for the 2017-2018 school year. I feel that the formation of this committee is important because we are the voice for our student-athletes on campus. We are able to provide input and make changes for the wants and needs for our student-athletes not only at the campus, but conference and national level as well. This group is also able to make a difference in the greater community. Some of the things UMF’s SAAC has done are, organizing a food drive every year, donating Thanksgiving meal baskets to families in need and volunteering at the Special Olympics.”

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

  • Smith: “Competing in college athletics was one of the best decisions I could have made during my search for secondary education. You’re immediately welcomed into a new family with your teammates and coaches. I have formed lifelong bonds and friendships with every one of the teammates I’ve had. I am happy to say I will always be in their corner and I know I can expect the same in return.”  
  • Carter: “Some advice I would give is to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. Whether it is athletics, your career, volunteering, etc. find what you’re passionate about and continue to do it. People should find what make them excited and feel like they are making positive contributions to the greater community. Another piece of advice I would give is to try your best with everything you do. No one ever wants to look back on a game or exam thinking that they weren’t prepared enough or didn’t put enough effort into it.”

Beyond your sport, what are you most passionate about?

  • Smith: “Building friendships and spending time with the people that make each day better. I am surrounded by such incredible individuals that I am very thankful for. Whether it is on the field, around campus, in the classroom, or back home in Middlebury; I have the best people beside me.” 
  • Carter: “Beyond basketball, I am most passionate about teaching and making a difference in the lives of my students. Being a preservice special education teacher, I already have had several practicum experiences. Working with my students has truly been a rewarding experience. Teaching provides me with the ability to make a difference in student’s lives every day. I believe that everyone should have a career that they are passionate about, the way I am regarding teaching. I am a firm believer in helping students receive equal opportunities in life, especially with their education. My hope is to be able to provide this for as many individuals as possible during my career.”

What are your plans after graduation?

  • Smith: “After graduation, I will be returning to Camp Keewaydin for my second summer on staff followed by a year of work before I eventually return to school in the fall of 2019 to begin the pursuit of my master’s degree. My four years here at Castleton have gone by so quickly and I have enjoyed every second. Castleton is an incredible institution that lays the base for hard working students to achieve whatever goal they set their minds to, no matter how unattainable they may seem.”    
  • Carter: “After graduation, I plan to apply for Special Education teaching positions in the Southern Maine area, where I am from. While I am teaching, I plan to enroll part time in a Master’s degree program related to the field Special Education.”

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