Every year, NCAA Division III institutions across the country participate in Division III Week. To celebrate this week, we will bring you a new profile every day that gives a glimpse into the life of Chapman's student-athletes.
We continue our series of features with a Q&A with softball senior Larissa Rinauro. Larissa will graduate from the Integrated Educational Studies program in May. She was accepted into graduate school at UC Irvine and Chapman but chose to pursue her master's and teaching credentials at Chapman. She works in the IES department, as well as being a part-time elementary PE teacher. Next Fall, she will begin a graduate assistantship at the Career Development Center on campus.
Why did you choose Chapman and to be a Division III student-athlete?
I chose Chapman and to be a Division III student-athlete because I knew that being able to play the sport I love while also pursuing a future career as a teacher and still having a social life was possible. I chose Division III because I knew I would be recognized as a student first and athlete second, which gave me endless opportunities outside of athletics. I chose Division III because I knew that when I stepped on the field, I would be playing with other people that were committing the practice time, blood, sweat and tears for no other reason than that they loved the sport and I wouldn't ever change that.
How have you been able to find a balance between academics and athletics?
I have been able to find a balance between academics and athletics. At a DIII school, our coaches are very understanding that school is a priority and want us to succeed. If we have class or school conflicts, they understand and support us. When we have athletic conflicts with school, our teachers are also very understanding. I'm very grateful to be in a place where both are equally accepted and supported and I think the coaches and teachers play a huge role in that.
What has been the biggest benefit of being a Division III student-athlete? What are the opportunities you have been able to take advantage of at Chapman?
Being a Division III student athlete has allowed me to pursue work opportunities and leadership roles on campus that wouldn't otherwise be possible. Specifically within my major, I became an academic Peer Advisor. With this role I have been able to help students plan their schedules, guide them through the graduate application and credential processes and work closely with faculty to better the Integrated Educational Studies (IES) program. In addition, I have been able to work for multiple departments, allowing myself to develop strong relationships with diverse groups of students and faculty across campus.
How has competing in a sport at Chapman helped you achieve your long term goals or set you on your desired career path?
Since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to be an elementary educator. Being able to play a sport my whole life and at Chapman, I have been able to continue pursuing this dream. Being a part of a team, you are constantly reminded what it means to work hard, be committed and support one another. These are three key components that I will continue to carry on into my future career. In addition, playing a sport at a Division III school has also allowed me to pursue off campus opportunities like an internship as a teacher's assistant and volunteering at the Friendly Center. I'm so appreciative of the flexibility of Division III sports and the ability to continue achieving my long term and future career goals.