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Division III Week Student-Athlete Spotlight: In My Own Words by Darriyan Thomas

Division III Week - Darriyan Thomas women's volleyball graphic

WASHINGTON – Gallaudet University athletics is proud to participate in the seventh annual NCAA Division III Week (April 2-8) in an effort to celebrate the impact athletics and Bison student-athletes have on our campus and surrounding community. GU is joining 450 Division III institutions and 43 conferences in this week’s celebration.

To help focus on the many student-athletes that represent Gallaudet athletics we will spotlight two different student-athlete each day this week. You will learn more about them as they express their feelings on what it is like to be a Division III student-athlete here at Gallaudet. Interviews were conducted by the Gallaudet Sports Information Office.

Senior Darriyan Thomas (Vallejo, Calif.) recently finished her fourth season on the women's volleyball team. Thomas, an International Studies major with a minor in Spanish, is set to graduate in December 2018. 

In My Own Words: Darriyan Thomas

What is it like to be a student-athlete in college?
DT: As a college student-athlete, I am very fortunate to participate in NCAA Division III sports at Gallaudet University. I feel grateful to be part of this because not everyone can manage their time between the classroom and sports at the same time. I have multiple support systems including my family, friends, coaches, teams, and staff. They believe in me; that I can succeed in and out of the classroom. I have managed pretty well in my four years of collegiate volleyball. Not only that, I have become involved in the Gallaudet community outside of athletics; I have gained experience as a leader in athletic participation. I feel this is part of my life experience that I would never want to trade for anything else. 

What is it like to be a student-athlete at Gallaudet University?
DT: I feel delighted to be part of Gallaudet community because I am a Deaf bi-racial student-athlete; there are not many person of color (POC) student-athletes that have participated in Gallaudet volleyball. I feel so proud to be called the first Deaf African-American woman volleyball player. I am glad to be able to represent who I am at Gallaudet University because I have the biggest support from my school in Fremont, Calif., (California School for the Deaf) and the younger students have been looking up to me as their role model. I couldn’t be more grateful for this. 

What are your goals after graduation, what do you hope to do in life?
DT: I was supposed to major in Physical Education because I want to help young student-athletes improve their skills and become successful in sports. However, when I took a class related to International Studies I changed my mind because I became fascinated with the Peace Corps, an organization that helps people outside the United States to support their education and other needs. My dream is to teach Deaf people in Latin America who have not had access to education and language growing up. Most parents of Deaf children often hide them because they feel embarrassed to have a Deaf child. I realized that I should never take my education and language for granted. So, after I graduate, I want to contribute to the community by teaching them in Spanish. And, I want to establish a non-profit organization to create literacy, language development activities, and materials in Latin America for Deaf people. I believe that Deaf people from Latin America are like us. They want to have success in their future. I want to make them feel that they are an important part of the Deaf community and to be able to embrace who they are. 

Throughout your four years at Gallaudet, you have accomplished so much. What accomplishment do you treasure the most? Looking back at how you've transformed from when you began here to where you are now, what have you learned about yourself? What role did athletics have in your transformation?
DT: A few of the accomplishments I am proud of in my collegiate volleyball career is winning the NEAC Player of the Year twice, and once as Gallaudet Student-Athlete of the Year. I have worked so hard throughout my four years of college volleyball; my passion for volleyball is endless. I could not accomplish this without the support of my team and coaches, thanks to them I will always remember and treasure these awards. 

Looking back from the beginning of my freshman year, I have changed a lot by learning how to commit to school and sports. Back then, I didn't have much self-confidence. However, I did play libero during freshman year. Once I played as a libero, I improved by connecting with teammates on the court. Libero is a difficult position to play because I have to be responsible to pass the ball well so the team can run more offensive plays in strategic ways. I must have quickness (respond quickly to every ball) and consistently dig the ball in every game. I played pretty well and I had full confidence at the end of the season. Then, I became an outside hitter my sophomore year until senior. I played everywhere on the court because I had to pass, dig, and hit the ball. I loved this position so much because I love to make good kills. My coach, Lynn Ray Boren, gave me a position as a team captain. To be honest, I am not really fond of being a leader. I am a very quiet person; I don’t have a loud voice. But when I became a captain, I realized that I can connect with teammates in different ways as a leader. I learned how to manage the team and hustle every player during practices and games. I am glad that I can know and discover myself more by thriving in different abilities throughout my four years at Gallaudet. 

Division III Week Fact of the Day
Did you know that Division III student-athletes are more likely to report that they see themselves as part of the campus community.

Division III Week Student-Athlete Spotlight: In My Words
Saturday: Connor Baer (Men's Soccer) | Darriyan Thomas (Women's Volleyball)
Friday: Devonte Ramsey (Men's Basketball) | Hannah Carter (Softball)
Thursday: Jonathan Tikhonoff (Men's Swimming) | Sabrina Hernandez (Women's Soccer)
Wednesday: Michael Haynes (Men's Track and Field) | Fatuma Ali (Women's Cross Country)
Tuesday: Matthew Carcraft (Football) | Shakeedra Hubbard (Women's Basketball)
Monday: Ren Hohneke (Men's Cross Country) | Jana Kiefer (Women's Swimming)

About Division III Week
Division III Week is a positive opportunity for all individuals associated with Division III to observe and celebrate the impact of athletics and of student-athletes on the campus and surrounding community. During the week, every Division III school and conference office is encouraged to conduct a type of outreach activity that falls into one of three categories: academic accomplishment; athletic experience; or leadership/community service/campus involvement. For more information log onto www.ncaa.org/about/division-iii-week-2018.

About Gallaudet
Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world. For more information about Gallaudet University please log onto www.gallaudet.edu.