By: Colton Steiner
While academics are Bluffton University’s main focus, athletics are one of the many factors that bring students to campus. Since Bluffton is a Division III college they can’t give students athletic scholarships, but it gives students the opportunity to continue their athletic career on a collegiate level. Athletics on campus help current students and bring prospective students to the campus.
Some students play one sport, some play two, but athletics help keep the attendance of the university up. The chance to play a sport they enjoy makes college a better experience for many active students. When athletes grow up playing a sport and aren’t able to play at the Division I or Division II level, Division III can help give them that chance to continue their hobbies for four more years.
There are many people that contribute to Bluffton University and the athletic program is a big part of the campus. The importance of athletics to the university can’t be overlooked, as Bluffton Head Volleyball Coach Steve Yarnell explained.
“Athletics is the lifeblood of the institution,” said Yarnell. “Sports are a vehicle to engage prospective students and attract them to the university.”
Bluffton senior AJ Ehresman came to campus his freshman year as a track and field athlete. After two years of competing, Ehresman switched directions and joined the football team as a running back. While an ACL injury sidelined him for his entire senior season, he knows the impact that athletics make for the university.
“The relationships that you create with your coaches are important to have on and off the field,” Ehresman stated. “These are relationships that you’re building that will last for your entire life. You build relationships with professors who can also be your coach.”
Not only do athletics give students the opportunity to play their sport, it helps create community which is one of Bluffton’s main values. Despite only being on campus for a year, sophomore Garrett Siefer, who plays baseball for the Beavers, believes that people who aren’t in sports are still affected by athletics here on campus.
“Athletics mean so much for people here on campus,” Siefer said. “If someone isn’t in a sport they are either doing stats or out cheering on the teams.”
Athletics help build the community at Bluffton University. They create a place for people to express themselves and get to know other individuals.
“[Athletics] serves as entertainment and something to keep the students engaged,” Yarnell added. “It builds school spirit and hopefully students want to give back later in life.”
Collegiate athletics will continue to drive in the enrollment at Bluffton University. Sporting events will help bring in revenue for the athletic department and will hopefully bring the community of Bluffton closer together.