Faces of D3 - Isaiah Swann
Inside D3 - Faces of D3
DALLAS, Texas - For our first "Faces of D3" segment, I focused on senior baseball player Isaiah Swann from The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Swann is a Marietta, Georgia native majoring in Neuroscience. He also is the President of UTD’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and a National SAAC representative for the ASC & SCAC conferences.
I started by asking Isaiah about why he chose Division III athletics, he made it very clear that the importance of education always came first, “When I made my decision, I knew that I wanted academics and research to take precedence over everything else throughout my collegiate experience. Division III is the option that best allows for that sort of flexibility at any given time during the year.”
More often than not, D3 athletics does not get the recognition it deserves. I wanted to get Isaiah’s input on what other divisions may not know about D3, “One thing that doesn't receive enough recognition is the sheer size of Division III. Around 190,000 student-athletes, spread out across nearly 450 institutions, participate in Division III programs. I think there's a common misconception that DIII as a whole is small since many of its member schools aren't as large as their DI counterparts, which simply isn't the case.”
While the sizes of D3 schools may be different, the experiences are just as unique. I asked Isaiah how D3 athletics shaped him as a player on the infield.
“I think DIII athletics forced me to take a step back and recognize and ply my role--whatever that is--to the best of my ability.”
He then goes on to talk about a difficult experience he had when fighting for a position during his transition to college. “Throughout high school, I was used to being a starter and having things go my way. That changed during my sophomore year of college. I was beaten out at my position by one of my teammates who was clearly better. I had the choice of ‘folding,’ quitting on myself and the team, or supporting my team and playing my role. Obviously, I chose to support my teammates, which is one of the (many) reasons why we were so successful that year. Interestingly, I improved drastically as a player throughout that time as well. It's amazing what happens when you let go of a toxic mindset. So, yeah, DIII athletics forced me to be mentally strong and play for something larger than myself.” Swann still managed to go on and have a successful freshman season, starting in 43 of his first 44 games and being named third-team All-ASC and ASC Freshman of the Year.
We then went on to talk about how D3 shaped Isaiah off the field, “Where do I start? I'll never forget my first playing season. It was just as terrible as it was amazing. At the same time that I had never been so tired, I had never felt so alive and so a part of something bigger than myself.” He also said that he initially struggled when it came to finding a healthy balance of the student-athlete lifestyle. “I did well in class and had a blast on the field but failed miserably when it came to sleep and eating. I had to learn how to manage my time in a way that was conducive to success on the field, in the classroom, and elsewhere in my life.” On the bright side, Swann was able to improve on his community engagement with the help of UTD.
“The UTD athletics program is huge on giving back to the community. Before college, I always felt that I did not have time to dedicate to service, but my athletics program showed me that is not the case. I can confidently say that I would not have a deep appreciation for service that I do today without DIII athletics.”
Isaiah also credits SAAC with playing a large role in making the student-athlete experience better for the future. “(Finally,) my roles on the UTD Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Division III SAAC have shaped me into an effective advocate for my fellow student-athletes, which I hope will allow me to advocate for those less fortunate than I in the future.” We later talked about his personal favorite experience as a student-athlete, “My favorite experience was going to the Western Regionals in Spokane, Washington, with my baseball team. I had never been to Washington before, and this was our team's first trip to Regionals in, like, a decade, so to be able to get there with that group of guys was really special. Plus, we got to fly over the Rocky Mountains, and now I see what all of the hype is about.”
Lastly, I asked him if there was anything he would change about his experience as a D3 athlete. He mentions injuries, which most likely includes an unfortunate injury to his right hand that ended his junior season after only a few games. “The only thing I would change is to remove injuries from the DIII experience haha. Seriously though, I wouldn't change a thing. They say that your athletics experience is kind of what you make it, and I would tend to agree; I've loved it every step of the way.” Swann hopes to continue his already illustrious athletics experience/career going into his senior year. We wish him a healthy season on the field and a successful year off of it. Stories like Isaiah’s are what makes Division III athletics so unique. More and more stories like this can be found throughout the 400+ colleges in this division, all deserving acknowledgment.
-Inside D3, Faces of D3-