Thomas' Dutka Featured in NAC Values Series

Thomas' Dutka Featured in NAC Values Series

Courtesy of the North Atlantic Conference

Division III Week: NAC Values UMF's Stemm & Thomas' Dutka

Member institutions of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) place a high value in the overall student-athlete experience while focusing on four attributes including Sportsmanship, Community/Global Service, SAAC/Campus Leadership, and Diversity and Inclusion. The NAC will be featuring one student-athlete at all ten member institutions throughout Division III Week, April 3-9, 2017, in a series titled "NAC Values."

The college experience provides students a chance to follow their passions and to develop their potential. NCAA Division III student-athletes discover their growth while in the classroom, as well as during their participation in a competitive athletic environment. Student-athletes push themselves to excellence on the field of play and in the classroom. 

Below you will learn how the University of Maine at Farmington sophomore Andrea Stemm (Gorham, Maine) and Thomas College sophomore Jonathan Dutka (Durham, N.H.) embody NAC Values and the three NCAA Division III ideals, "Discover, Develop, and Dedicate."


Name: Andrea Stemm
Institution: University of Maine at Farmington         
Major: Pre-Professional Biology
Class: Sophomore
Varsity Sport: Field Hockey
Hometown: Gorham, Maine

Name: Jonathan Dutka
Institution: Thomas College
Major: Management
Class: Sophomore
Varsity Sport: Men's Soccer
Hometown: Durham, N.H.

What does being a Division III student-athlete mean to you

Stemm: Being able to continue playing field hockey, a sport I am very passionate about, at the college level means so much. UMF is a good fit for me, not only academically, but athletically as well. I am proud to continue my field hockey career while representing my degree.

Dutka: To me, being a Division III student-athlete means dedicating myself to not only soccer, but also to academics, and extracurricular activities. Each area of life in college offers learning opportunities, and to learn what you can from all of them is what it means to be a Division III student-athlete. Each has their own significance, and should be valued in order to get the most out of a college education. 

What is the athletic culture like at your institution, and what does being a "Beaver/Terrier" mean to you?

Stemm: At UMF, athletic programs are taken very seriously, and are competitive. Athletes at UMF are united, and it's common to see them supporting each other at home games. I've found that a lot of athletes know each other and many play multiple sports. Being a Beaver means a lot to me and my team. The field hockey team takes great pride in representing our school on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.

Dutka: Being a Terrier means having an unquestionable work-ethic, great determination, help those around you succeed, and have respect for them. At Thomas, the athletics department is a family, who wants to see each other be successful and will be there to help each other. We take pride in our teams, whom bring together the community. In return, we place emphasis on giving back to those in our communities, especially those that support us. 

How has athletics affected your collegiate experience as a whole?

Stemm: Attending UMF allows me to continue my field hockey career in college. Being an athlete in college has made a positive impact on my life. I've met some of my best friends and most respected mentors through my involvement in athletics. Sports continue to teach me important life lessons, which help shape me into who I am as a person. All of these factors combined play a pivotal role in my college experience. I can't imagine not being a student athlete. Choosing to play at the college level was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Dutka: Through soccer, I have met and gotten to know many more people than I would have otherwise. I have gained a lot of knowledge and skills that can easily be applied to other parts of my life. I have learned much more from soccer than I imagined I would. Athletics has given me greater confidence in myself which I am grateful for. Playing for Thomas has even opened up many opportunities for leadership and career growth for me. 

How do you balance being a student and an athlete, while maintaining your grades?

Stemm: I've found that being a student athlete forces me to manage my time as efficiently as possible. I've received some of my best grades while in season. For example, if I know my team has two away games over the weekend, I do my best to get as much homework and studying done before-hand, as well as bring what I need to study while traveling. Athletics and school are a balance. Practice takes the focus off stressful school assignments and school takes away some of the anxiety and tension before a big game, or away from a tough loss.

Dutka: Balancing all of the responsibilities in college can be hard, but I deeply enjoy being an athlete. By being passionate about soccer, when I have to focus on the responsibilities of a student, I have more determination, and patience to fulfill them. I am able to do that because soccer releases some energy, and usually puts me in a good mood. 

What do you believe are the most important skills to possess when trying to excel on the "field" and in the classroom?

Stemm: The most important skill to possess in order to achieve success in both disciplines is simply having the desire to do both. Athletics in college is a big time commitment, that is also very rewarding. Finding the balance is difficult, and requires hard work. Nothing worth having comes easy. Teams don't win championships without intense practices, and the same goes for grades. You can't achieve high grades without studying. Being 100% dedicated to both school and your sport is key.

Dutka: When trying to excel on the field it is important to have a professional training mentality. That means being "solution oriented" by focusing on what can be done, instead of focusing on what went wrong. Success in sports comes down to mostly your mentality. Other important skills are remaining positive, being able to accept constructive criticism, communication, and relationships with teammates and coaches.

When trying to excel in the classroom, it is important to have a strong work-ethic since there will be topics that you struggle to learn. When you are struggling, you have to be able to work harder in order to learn about the topic. Time management is important in order to balance multiple assignments at once. Other important skills are being curious, not accepting what you are told, having goals, and effective note taking. 

Which NAC Value/s do you believe that you embody most: Sportsmanship, Community/Global Service, SAAC/On campus Leadership AND/OR Diversity or Inclusion? How you exemplify NAC Values every day?

Stemm: I try to embody all these values, but what stands out to me the most is the work I do through StepUp. StepUp is an on campus community/ global service that works to highlight many values mentioned above, such as diversity and leadership. The StepUp program is dedicated to educating students about bystander intervention, which includes teaching them the skills necessary to intervene in tough situations. I believe that by promoting the core ideas and values of the StepUp program, I help empower athletes, club members, and the campus community to be leaders when they recognize a difficult situation. Creating a campus that encourages and teaches about bystander intervention helps make it a better place, one decision at a time.  

Dutka: I believe that I embody the value of sportsmanship the most. Respecting others has been a value that I have been raised with throughout my life. You have no idea what other people are going through, even if they are mistreating you, it is important to treat them as you would want to be treated. I try to act in this way in order to avoid conflict. Most people would be surprised as to how much you can learn from others, and how far your own influence reaches. I learn what I can from those around me, and act in ways that respect the opinions of others and encourage them to share them. It is important to act in a respectful and honest way since you can't be sure of how many people, especially young people are watching you. The teams you play against provide the ability to play games, without them and the referees, there wouldn't be any games. I remember that as much as I can. Those that have dedicated themselves to the game and work hard absolutely deserve respect, as well as the coaches that guide them.  

Are you involved on your campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)? Why do you believe the formation of this committee is important?

Stemm: This is my second year being involved with SAAC at UMF. SAAC is an important group of student athletes that work toward unifying all sports teams, as well as promoting a good image for UMF athletics on campus and in the community. SAAC takes part in numerous volunteer opportunities, as well helping create a gateway for communication between athletes, coaches and administrators.

Dutka: Yes, I am a member of the Thomas SAAC. This committee helps to provide the best possible student-athlete experience for everyone at Thomas College. As a representative of the student-athletes at Thomas, we share the voices of our teammates and peers in order to improve the athletic experiences we all have. 

How are you a leader on campus and/or in the community?

Stemm: I lead by example and do what I think is right, even in difficult situations. I work hard to do my best on the field and in the classroom. I also do my best to get involved with other programs and volunteer opportunities in the community.

Dutka: I believe I lead by example, in and out of the classroom. I spend much of my time working at doing my best academically, and athletically which provides a good example to my teammates and peers. I also put a significant amount of time into volunteering in the community and around Thomas. I lead a busy life, and do my best to prioritize what needs to be done, and remain responsible enough to do so. I enjoy being different than most people, and making different decisions. I accept, and am glad for who I am, even when that means I stand apart from most people. 

The ultimate goal in the NAC is to create an atmosphere of respect for all participants. How have you distinguished yourself through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior?

Stemm: I help create atmosphere of respect and sportsmanship by conducting myself in a respectful and compassionate manner on and off the field. Treating everyone with kindness and respect is key, whether it's on the field, in the classroom or in the community. Standing up for what you believe is right is another responsibility that all athletes have in the NAC, which is how I demonstrate my sportsmanship and ethical behavior.

Dutka: I make a strong effort to treat everyone around me fairly, and with respect. Since that is how I would like to be treated by others. I refrain from belittling others when they know they have messed up. Instead I try to encourage them and remain positive to help put them on a constructive path. Since it can be easy to blame others when things go wrong on or off of the field.  

If you have time to volunteer, which organization has been most rewarding for you to work with? Why is volunteering important to you

Stemm: Throughout college I've had several opportunities to volunteer. There are two that are especially memorable to me. The field hockey team has been volunteering annually at Rustic Roots farm, which involves picking vegetables and helping with chores. Around Christmas, a group of SAAC members volunteer at St Luke's Episcopal Church as well. Volunteering with the field hockey team and fellow UMF athletes makes the experience fun and rewarding. It's a good feeling to know that we are helping out people in the community.

Dutka: The Red Cross has been the most rewarding organization I have worked with. When I volunteered for them, I learned about the large need for blood donations. Therefore by helping them, I felt like I was making a difference. Volunteering is important to me because so many people are not able to help themselves. By volunteering time or services, other people benefit greatly. It is amazing to see the gratitude on their faces once the work is done. 

Is there any advice you would give to your peers or aspiring collegiate student-athletes that you believe would help them benefit more from their collegiate experience?

Stemm: The best thing I could say to them is to always try their best, both in school and on the field. It will be so much more rewarding knowing that you give all you can. With that being said, there is so much more to do at college than study and practice! There are many people who want to help and guide you! Don't be afraid to get involved and ask questions.

Dutka: I would advise them to maintain a "solution-oriented" mentality on the field, and throughout their lives. Remaining positive like this, will allow them to reap great benefits in their future. 

What is your greatest accomplishment thus far in your collegiate career (on and off of the "field")?

Stemm: I came to UMF as a liberal arts undecided student. I had no idea what I was going to do as a job, and UMF helped me to figure that out. I think one of my greatest accomplishments in my collegiate career academically has been figuring out what I want to after school. On the field, a huge accomplishment for me was being able to help my team win the NAC championship this past season. In high school, we never made it to big 'high-stakes' games. Working as hard as I could, alongside my teammates, to achieve such an accomplishment together has got to be one of the biggest accomplishments I've had in my field hockey career as a whole.

Dutka: My greatest accomplishment so far was winning the NAC Championship my freshman year. I was the goalkeeper in the shootout where we won at home in front of most of my family, and all of our fans. 

Beyond your sport, what are you most passionate about?

Stemm: Not only am I passionate about field hockey, but I am also passionate about school. I love being a student, and continuing my education at UMF has given me so many opportunities. I have met my best friends at school, and have learned valuable lessons. I love making a difference and helping people. 

Dutka: Besides soccer, I am passionate about the outdoors/ activities like hiking, skiing, and camping, my family, and my friends.

What are your plans after graduation?

Stemm: I aspire to be a Pediatric Physician Assistant. After graduation, I plan to attend a graduate school with a PA program to achieve my goals.

Dutka: I am still discovering my other passions which I plan to seek out after graduation.