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Men’s Cross country and Track: D3 team or D1 intramural/club

momoftheyearmomoftheyear 4 replies2 threads New Member
Hi,
My son is a good (but not D1 scholarship level good) XC/track runner and wants to continue running competitively in college.
He really thrives on the team vibe but will also likely will be taking some rigorous science-y classes.
I’m wondering if a D3 school would be the best option vs finding a club/IM team at a bigger (D1) school.
Which type of school is best to steer him towards? Any specific schools (good or bad) for my list?
Thanks for any info!! Love this forum.
18 replies
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Replies to: Men’s Cross country and Track: D3 team or D1 intramural/club

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33202 replies3929 threads Super Moderator
    Does he know what he'd like to major in? How much can you afford? My first thought was any of a number of LACs but you haven't supplied his grades/stats.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 475 replies1 threads Member
    edited November 21
    Many D1 public universities have robust running clubs. Can take his pick of those that will admit him, see the website showing schedule for xc and track competitions.
    Even D3 private universities have clubs.

    https://clubrunning.org/
    edited November 21
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  • momoftheyearmomoftheyear 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks!!
    Stats:
    Grades: right now straight As (he’s a junior)
    ACT composite 34
    And for running- 5K PR 17:54 jr year
    We have saved for college but some sticker shock still applies- my husband and I went to big/cheaper state universities.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 539 replies6 threads Member
    Depends if you want to leverage his recruiting to get into an academic d3 reach.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5982 replies10 threads Senior Member
    This really depends on what he is trying to achieve.

    If running isn't his priority, I would advise putting together a list based on academics and affordability. THEN look at the running options at each. I would approach the coach at each to gauge interest and to learn about the programs on campus (including running clubs.)

    D1 and D2 can give him scholarships for running. D3 can only give money for need or merit (unlinked to athletics.) If a coach at a D3 he likes wants him, it is a great way to get moved to the top of the admissions pile as @cinnamon1212 notes. It may also require applying ED and giving up the ability to see other offers.
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 219 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My son is a first-year at a D3 school and is running track, and it is working very well for him. As you describe so well, he is thriving on the team vibe, and running has helped him get settled in quickly with a close-knit group of friends. The discipline of having to deal with daily practice and conditioning is helping him develop time management skills, and the vibe of the team is academically serious. He looked at a few D1 schools but quickly decided he didn't want to make the kind of time commitment required for D1 varsity and, more generally, wanted a smaller school. As a result, we didn't really explore what it would be like running for a club team at a D1 school, but it seems to me you might want to start with the question what sort of school would be the best fit for your son generally - big school or LAC, etc. - and then tackle the XC/track issue. Once it became clear our son wanted an LAC, we focused on LACs that had strong track programs and excellent athletic facilities and made it a point to meet the coaches when we visited.
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  • kirkhavenkirkhaven 23 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited November 21
    Trinity University is a highly selective school with great academics and a strong cross country program (D3). It is in San Antonio, and only about 75 minutes from Austin, which is one of the best running cities in America.
    edited November 21
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5408 replies101 threads Senior Member
    edited November 21
    Our S also runs at a D3 school and I agree with everything @tkoparent says above. I will say, though, that I don’t know how a D1 could be much different! He’s training Mon-Fri from 4-7 and on Saturday mornings as well. It’s a big commitment and he’s finding balancing running with tough academics to be challenging. He’s making it work but being a three season athlete at an elite LAC is no joke! Very little downtime, weekends filled with homework and late nights studying during the week.
    edited November 21
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 219 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @homerdog, I've had that thought as well - how much more time could a D1 athlete possible spend on training? I wonder whether the difference is not so much the amount of time and effort but the balance of priorities. At our son's school, and I'm sure at Bowdoin, there's never any doubt that academics comes first, and the coaches are all with the program about that.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5408 replies101 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    @tkoparent I also think there's less traveling...or at least the distances are shorter so the boys might be gone for a whole Sat for a meet but almost never overnight anywhere and never miss class.

    So far, S has not had to ask the coach for any leeway in his training to study although I've asked him a number of times if he could just tell the coach he needs a day off to get some work done. He insists that no one does this but I honestly think he could do it if he asked. Also, S has a tough STEM schedule unlike most of his teammates so he seems to have more work to do. I think that's always something to consider when thinking about participating in a sport in college. STEM majors (especially ones that require labs) are very time consuming and stressful and that makes managing your time is even more of a challenge.

    He was up the last two nights until 2:00 doing work. This is not uncommon for him now even though he's doing work in between classes during the day. Starting practice at 4:30 and not finishing up dinner until 8:00 is a big chunk of time that's given to running.
    edited November 22
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2595 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    Lots of good advice so far. Your S might reach out to coaches, and make some school visits to see what is most appealing academically, then consider how his sport might fit in to the picture. I would definitely look at some of the academically rigorous DIII schools and XC/TNF programs as a possible fit.

    @tkoparent @homerdog

    Access NCAA's most recent GOALS study (2015) here: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/ncaa-goals-study

    Student-athletes spend a really high number of hours on their sport, both in and off season. The GOALS study slides (starting around slide 31) have hours broken out by Division and sport (but not XC/Track and field), as well as in/off-season.

    DI student-athletes spend more hours per week than DIII.....34 median hours/week in-season for DI vs. 28.5 median hours for DIII (on slide 32).....IMO crazy high for both!

    NCAA is administering this survey again in 2019, the results have not yet been made available.
    edited November 22
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5408 replies101 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    @Mwfan1921 well, that is some good info.

    @momoftheyear I understand the bonding that happens on a XC/track team and I will say that it's been a big part of why S has acclimated to school so easily. His friends who are running at other D3s would say the same thing. I think your son needs to understand that running at a D3 is not that much different than at a D1 is many ways. He will be expected at practice six days a week. He will be expected to travel to meets for all three seasons. His mileage will likely increase from high school which is also why practice is so long (S is up to 75 miles per week plus lifting three times per week). BUT he's loving it. He knows he's giving up the opportunity to be deeply involved in something else on campus but is ok with that. He does volunteer in the local town once a week with a completely separate (non-track) group of friends and is enjoying it but that's about all he can handle right now for "other" ECs.

    If your son isn't interested in being "all in" like this, then perhaps looking at running clubs is a better option. I know S's school has one but it's not that robust. I bet, at bigger schools, the running club is a bonding and fun experience. I know our nephew at U Minn was in the running club and loved it. He's a serious athlete and now runs sub 2:40 marathons as a 24 year old. So, I'm sure your son could find like-minded runners in running clubs as well.
    edited November 22
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 179 replies13 threads Junior Member
    I am not sure if your son is pre-med, but it is VERY difficult to do a college sport and get into med school. you don't meet a lot of doctors that played college sports. some, but not a lot. If your son has doubts about being on the team, then I would seriously consider the larger schools (D1's generally) that have good established running clubs. many of these clubs are awesome- they run all different routes and they compete as a school team against other school clubs. You want a club that is part of NIRCA (can check their website). there are many competitive runners in the larger clubs- your son won't be too good for them. but the practices and races are not mandatory and not everyone in the club will be at your son's elite level. Unfortunately, smaller schools usually don't have these clubs, or if they do they are not part of NIRCA and are not robust and competitive.
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  • momoftheyearmomoftheyear 4 replies2 threads New Member
    All very helpful. Thank you.
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  • wisteria100wisteria100 4246 replies47 threads Senior Member
    I think some D1 teams are just more intense and serious than D3. And they may have morning lift and afternoon runs on some days. There can also be more meets in D1 vs D3 and more meets for track where they take the entire team where for D3 some track meets they don't take the entire team.
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  • waverlywizzardwaverlywizzard 169 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Have him look into schools in NESCAC one of the highest academic caliber D3 conferences. Athletics in NESCAC are extremely competitive and the one thing about D3 is that he might even have a chance to go to NCAA which is nearly impossible at D1 level. How many athletes qualify as All American? The top 7 in each event for D3. That is a big secret I feel like.
    There is plenty of time later in life to do club level sports. They just arent the same for competitive athletes in conferences like NESCAC. Good luck I hope he finds a program that works for his talent!
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23415 replies17 threads Senior Member
    The amount of time spent traveling really plays into the hours per week. The first year my daughter played was also her coach's first year (and the team's). The coach put together a season with 15 games, which is 2 short of the max. There were 3 out of state weekend games in a row at the end of the season, which was toward the end of the semester. Grueling. They were all exhausted. For the next 3 years they did one weekend out of state with 2-3 games at the beginning of the season in Feb. BIG difference. For her last 3 years all other games were either at home (11 out of 16) or in conference so within 3 hours of their school. She rarely missed a class

    In season, she put in about 30 hours per week which including reviewing film and travel. In the fall, it was probably more like 20. She was a captain so put in extra hours.

    Athletes do become doctors and study STEM subjects and are successful. My daughter's roommate is in dental school. A number of students at the arch rival school were in the nursing school.
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  • tkoparenttkoparent 219 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @homerdog, I bet you are right about the travel. We thought about this as well when our son was looking at schools, as some of the conferences are really spread-out geographically. Our son's school runs in the NCAC conference, which is pretty compact and will not require much overnight travel. On the other hand, they are also doing an optional training week over Spring Break, where the team will complete in one meet in Alabama, spend a week at a training camp in Gulf Shores and then finish up with another meet at Emory - it sounds like a lot of fun and a chance to see a different part of the country.

    Our son's training schedule sounds like yours - 4:30 till past 7 Monday to Friday and some training on Saturday as well. He finds he has enough time for his academics, but he is not a STEM kid and I can imagine it would be tougher if he were doing more than one lab in a semester. Also, he runs only track and not X/C, so he will have less time once the indoor track season starts in a couple of weeks.

    There is a lot of good advice in this interesting thread. The only other thing I would say is that meeting the individual coaches, and hopefully some current team members, early on should be another important source of information. Our son always asked the coaches what an average training day would look like, what would happen if there were academic conflicts, etc. - very practical questions. Those conversations were very helpful to him, initially in deciding what sort of school he wanted and, later, in deciding which school would be the best fit. An overnight with a team member might also be useful in getting a sense of the team culture. Our son didn't want to do this, but now he has been a host for track recruits a couple of times.
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