When the women of Dartmouth's soccer team play their first-round NCAA match against UW-Milwaukee in Wisconsin today, it will be nothing new for most of them.
The Big Green squad is known across the nation as one of the most consistently competitive teams in Division I. Ranked in the Top 25 at some point in the season for the last four years, Dartmouth is not only a powerhouse in the Ivy League, but also in the talent-soaked Northeast region and the nation as a whole.
Seeing the women of the Dartmouth squad walk across the green, you would never guess you were looking at Olympic Development caliber players. You would never guess that many of them were recruited by names as recognizable as Stanford, UNC or UConn. Huge universities and colleges across the country offered them scholarships and starting positions, yet, for one reason or another, they all ended up here.
Dartmouth, like all Ivy schools, offers no athletic scholarships. The athletes who participate in varsity sports here come from a range of financial backgrounds. Some have no difficulty paying the hefty tuition, while others turn to financial aid.
Dartmouth athletes stand apart from their Division I adversaries from outside of the Ivy League. They play the sport for reasons besides fame and fortune. They don't have scholarships to sweeten their efforts. They don't have expensive equipment or enormous complexes to play in. The Dartmouth athlete recognizes both the value of high quality education and the importance of his or her sport.
When the Dartmouth women take the field tonight, they will be facing a starting 11 that is composed of scholarship athletes, women whose college education was handed to them as a reward for years of hard work and dedication.
The Dartmouth women will compete with no less talent or energy than their opponents, but, when the game is over and this year's seniors leave the field, they will walk into futures built on the foundations of their sacrifices.
Much like their scholarship counterparts, the three seniors on this years squad -- Jamie Lang, Shannon Agner and Katie Price -- will leave Hanover with an incredible store of memories and accomplishments from their time as Big Green athletes, but they will also have a degree from prestigious Dartmouth College.