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Love of the Game

  David Lee Hartlage  

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, four-sport athlete Matt Ditch attracted some attention from Division I and Division II colleges, where he would have competed in one, maybe two, sports. What a difference a division makes. Ditch chose Division III Cornell and has lettered three times each in football and basketball, and once each in baseball and track and field for the Rams.

“I wanted to play more than one sport in college,” says Ditch, a junior from Center Point, Iowa. “The academics at Cornell were a huge reason I came here. Cornell is above and beyond the rest of the (Division III) Iowa Conference schools academically and I also wanted a chance to come in and help all the programs get better. I didn’t want to sit around and watch.”

Ditch was named First Team All-Conference in football and basketball this school year.

“Being involved in all the sports is actually a plus,” he says. “It helps me schedule my time and it helps me understand when I need to study and get my work done.”

Ditch carries a B average while pursuing a major in economics and business and a minor in psychology. He plans a career in banking.

His multiple talents are used within each sport. In football he has played wide receiver, defensive back, and punter. He has compiled 50 tackles, five interceptions, and 76 pass receptions for 1,272 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has punted 131 times in his career for a 34.4-yard average. In basketball he has career averages of 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 61 games, along with 77 three-point goals.

His freshman year he led off the 4x100-meter relay that placed seventh at the IIAC Championships, and his leap of 22-feet-1 3/4 landed him sixth in the long jump. His first two at bats in baseball were home runs for five RBI during an 11–7 win against the University of Dubuque during his sophomore season.

“I think my freshman year of basketball was the most memorable so far,” Ditch says. “We qualified for the conference tournament for the first time, which was a huge turnaround for the program.”

The Rams have won 39 basketball games in the last three seasons, compared to just nine victories in the three seasons pre- Ditch. Meanwhile, Ditch is the first Iowa Conference athlete to be first team in football and basketball since Rich Burke of Luther College in 1991-92.

-Darren Miller

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