By Jeff Haus, a junior team captain on the St. Mary's College of Maryland men's basketball team
I can't imagine a life not playing basketball. I started playing in the 4th grade, and I have been addicted ever since. It was my goal to somehow play at the collegiate level and St. Mary's College and the NCAA Division III offered me that opportunity. Playing Division III basketball has been able to provide me with some of my favorite memories and closest friends. It has given me a special and irreplaceable journey that his taken me high and low and taught me valuable life lessons in the process. Playing college sports is a wonderful roller-coaster ride, with pros and cons, peaks and valleys. For me, the best part of my Division III experience is enjoying this ride with the people involved.
As a Division III athlete, it certainly isn't what some people would expect. There aren't cameras following around me, I don't have kids asking me for autographs, and, unfortunately, I am not projected to make millions in an upcoming draft. But, those were never the reasons that I wanted to play college basketball in the first place. I play because I love the game, and I play because I love the people that are involved. A great part of the Division III experience is being able to play at such a homey place and knowing almost everybody in the stands. I see my family, my friends, my professors, and people I just met at The Door. The day after a game, I am expected to wake up and get to that 8 A.M. There aren't many off-days, and there's a chance I could miss fall break, winter break, and spring break. But, for some reason, I don't care. I want to spend as much time as I can with my friends and my teammates, because they are the ones who are going to shape my college experience. My friends are in the stands cheering for me, and my teammates are with me every step of the way.
By playing at a smaller program, you become more familiar with what surrounds you. There aren't any boosters or alumni who somehow shuttle thousands of dollars in. There are just fans and supporters: those who come to games when they can, those paint their bodies blue and yellow, and all those in between. This familiarity and comfort is what makes Division III so special. Balancing school, basketball, and my social life has been one of my toughest juggling acts. However, it has undoubtedly taught me life-long skills that will forever be engrained in my brain. Putting on a college basketball uniform has been the best decision of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.