Clarksville, Ark.- The University of the Ozarks Athletic Department celebrated National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III week on Thursday by hosting a field day for 40 students from Clarksville and Lamar school districts.
Field Day featured student-athletes participating in a wide array of inclusive games and activities in Mabee Gymnasium with local middle school and junior high students from self-contained special education classrooms. As part of the NCAA Division III commitment to Special Olympics, the visiting students and members of the campus community signed a banner pledging to support inclusion for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as part of the Spread the Word campaign. The festivities continued in the lunchroom, where the visiting students had the opportunity to take in the atmosphere of the campus and dine with U of O students.
The event was organized and executed by Ozarks' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Athletic Office Manager Lisa Thomas, and Dr. Amy Oatis.
"It is a great experience to be here and be a part of field day," said freshman softball standout Paige Lee. "I love how each kid is smiling and laughing and just letting loose. It is a real pleasure to be a part of this."
NCAA Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with a Division III institution to observe and celebrate the impact athletics and student-athletes have on campus and in the surrounding community.
"They will talk about this day for the rest of the year and when we come back to school in August, they will ask if we are going to the college again," said Lara Powers, a University of the Ozarks alumna and self-contained classroom teacher at Clarksville Junior High School.
By Rhett Williamson, Student Sports Information Assistant