written by Maia Gibson | managing Editor and also Ki Tally | sporting activities EditorPublished: December 12, 2018Last updated on April 23, 2019

The love the a sport drives many student-athletes to seek a collegiate strong career. With strict rule from the NCAA ~ above eligibility and also the potential because that an injury constantly looming, some athletes have the choice to redshirt.

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According to the NCAA, division II student-athletes have 10 semesters, or five years, of permanent enrollment in ~ a university to compete in athletics. However, they just have four years the eligibility to get involved in games, meets or matches against outside competition. Once an athlete does not contend or is injured throughout a season, they room eligible to redshirt, or basically extend their academic career into a 5th year to use all 4 years of your athletic eligibility. As former Head soccer Coach Bob Bartolomeo said, athletes have actually “five year to play four.”

While the NCAA recognizes and also uses the hatchet redshirt, the is not thought about an official term. According to an elderly Associate athletic Director for Compliance Scott Young, the ax redshirt is used an ext so because that the media and sports details as a method to clues athletes that space taking a 5th year indigenous those on the much more typical four year track. Athletes room either redshirted by choice or due to injury.

Graphic through Ethan Gerling

According to Young, the NCAA has actually two demands for a medical redshirt: The injury have to have arisen in the an initial half of the season and the athlete have to have contended in less than 30 percent of the season.

Redshirt sophomore lacrosse attacker Abigail Lagos to be redshirted throughout her freshman year because of a season-ending i know good injury. Lagos claimed that she was frustrated due to the fact that she wanted to play. Rather of practicing, she claimed she had actually to it is in patient and focus on getting healthy.

“It to be hard. It to be mentally challenging, however then physically challenging coming earlier because i injured my hip so ns wasn’t able come run. I wasn’t able to walk together much,” Lagos said. “So that was difficult to sit out and I remember ns really didn’t desire to go to any of the practices and also a lot of the team things because I wasn’t as involved. I felt sort of remote from them due to the fact that I wasn’t able to do every little thing that they were doing, also though i really wanted to. So it was a difficult process. Certainly not fun.”

Despite she initial frustration, Lagos said she thinks the the extra year will certainly be beneficial since she will certainly have more knowledge and also skill, i m sorry will enable her to play in ~ a different level. She plans to get in a graduate regimen for her 5th year when competing.

“… it’s a good opportunity to end up being a better player and develop and also work on your craft.”

Athletes can also redshirt through choice. Follow to Young, in stimulate to execute this, the athlete cannot get involved in organized competition against an exterior opponent at any allude in their season. Any type of athlete is eligible come redshirt as lengthy as they fulfill this requirement, however oftentimes that decision is make after a discussion with your coaches, according to Bartolomeo. He stated that he and also other coaches never ever want come use whole season of an athlete’s eligibility by playing them only when or twice. The decision to redshirt a student in the first year football player is partially based on whether the freshman can aid the team win, according to Bartolomeo.

“For example, if over there are four junior or senior wide receivers top top the team and also we have actually a freshman vast receiver the going to be tough to to win those juniors or seniors out. But, we constantly tell them that, the other end, if you’re the ideal then you will certainly play,” Bartolomeo said. “It is type of determined as us go through the season. Us pretty much, about game three or four, stop and decide permanently whether he’ll redshirt or not.”

Redshirt student in the first year defensive ago Jackson Weston stated that it to be his coaches’ selection to redshirt him. He stated that they believed he needed an ext time to grow and develop as a player and that redshirting him gave him that opportunity. Follow to Weston, the extra year gives him time to boost in the weight room, ~ above the field and a head begin on his academics.

“It was challenging at an initial knowing you’re just practicing and also you don’t gain to check out the field on Saturdays, however over time that dwells ~ above you, and also you establish it’s a an excellent opportunity to end up being a far better player and also develop and also work on your craft,” Weston said.

Redshirt sophomore wrestler Cayden Whitaker had a similar experience. He said that he and also his coaches both determined he can use an extra season of preparation for competing.

“…I knew i wasn’t completely prepared however to come into the university level straight out that high institution my freshman year,” Whitaker said. “I knew if ns got better on a daily basis and worked hard, coming right into my sophomore year–my redshirt student in the first year year–I would certainly be ready, and I was. That’s why I began last year. And also I think I’m yes, really prepared and I to be a lot more prepared than I would’ve been my true freshman year.”

According come Head Women’s soccer Coach Holly Cox, she does not enter the season with a plan to redshirt certain athletes, however plays whoever is walk to help the team win. As soon as she provides the decision come redshirt one athlete, she said that she takes into account their academic standing, their strength as a teammate and their strong ability. Unlike football, which regularly recruits athletes that will not see field time because that their an initial year or two, Cox claimed she recruits athletes she deserve to play immediately. Because of this, fewer soccer players redshirt.

“I often tend to discover that goalkeepers redshirt a lot compared to field players acquire moved approximately a lot so they don’t redshirt,” Cox said. “You try not to readjust goalkeepers too much since you don’t desire to change the team chemistry.”

Like Cox and other coaches, redshirting is not at the forefront of numerous athletes’ minds. Redshirt senior softball energy Brooke Reiss was no planning on redshirting. In ~ the start of she junior year, she take it a semester turn off of softball to focus on her academics. Once she returned to the team, she claimed that she did no think it to be fair for she to play once she had only been practicing through the team for half of the year. She stated that she to plan to return to the ar her an elderly year and not usage her fourth year that eligibility, but a discussion with she coaches led she to decide to redshirt instead. Reiss stated that she is grateful for the possibility to play a fourth season as well as get she masters degree due come this 5th year in school.

“It is going to be totally different for various other people, but for me it’s choose I get my masters level out the this,” Reiss said. “I honestly never ever thought i was walk to get my masters degree. I assumed I was going to be done through school and also start the real civilization life however I’m in reality happy the I’m obtaining my master’s degree now. For this reason the fact that I have the right to do my critical year on top of getting my master is a win-win.”

Redshirt an elderly thrower Austin Hogan was likewise not planning on redshirting once he did. His sophomore year, after the fatality of his cram coach, Hogan stated he determined to redshirt in stimulate to procedure the loss and also wait for the university to find one more coach.

“I think the means it operated out, it settled pretty well. Ns couldn’t have actually known that. If mine coach passing wasn’t the case, then i think, going back, ns would’ve redshirted my student in the first year year,” Hogan said. “But i think i was simply a little arrogant my freshman year. I constantly planned ~ above redshirting some year, however I just wanted to gain in the swing that things and also wanted to contend right away. I didn’t want to redshirt. However I was just a small too eager, however I nothing think the harmed me in any means to redshirt mine sophomore year.”

Even despite they were redshirted, both Hogan and Whitaker were able to compete unattached throughout their an initial redshirt season. Follow to Young, sports that permit individual rivals such as wrestling, track and field and swimming and diving, also enable redshirted athletes to contend unattached. This way that an athlete can compete, however only if they no receiving any funding or assistance from the university for those unattached competitions. The athlete can not wear the university’s uniform, it is in coached through its coaches, trained by its athletic trainers or travel with their teammates. Whitaker said that competing unattached throughout his first season permitted him come wrestle starters from other teams, which eventually prepared him because that his an initial year of attached competition.

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While many athletes pick to usage all 4 seasons of their eligibility ~ redshirting, according to Cox, they space not compelled to execute so. For some athletes, contending in their 4th season can not fit with their scholastic timeline, so they choose to graduate and also move on instead of extending an extra semester or year come participate. However, Reiss urges athletes who have actually the opportunity to redshirt to do so.

“But gift able to play your sport for one an ext year, you know a lot of of world would die to perform that again. Due to the fact that once she done, she done. So gift able to prolong it and also push it back for one an ext year, it’s type of a nice benefit on mine part,” Reiss said. “If you had the opportunity, i would completely do it. Take benefit of it and enjoy that while the lasts since it go by fast. My 4 years walk by fast, and also my fifth year has gone even faster.”