During the season, the Dixie State University basketball team is constantly in the public eye, and coaches and players are swarmed by fans and media, but there are certain players whose faces are almost never seen: the redshirts.
“Redshirt” is a delay or suspension of an athlete’s participation in order to lengthen his or her period of eligibility. A collegiate athlete has four years of eligibility in any given NCAA sport, but a redshirt year can be used to extend that time. During this year, the student-athlete attends classes and participates in team practices but cannot compete in any games. This essentially gives the player five academic years to fulfill his or her four years of athletic eligibility.
Josh Fuller, a redshirt sophomore business major from Rexburg, Idaho, is a transfer from Weber State University. Fuller is sitting out this basketball season due to an NCAA regulation that requires a player to forego a year after transferring.
“It is frustrating, but I just try to bring energy to every practice and do everything I can to help our team get better.” Fuller said. “It will definitely be worth it in the long run.”
There are many reasons that a player might redshirt, but usually it is a coach’s decision that helps ensure that the player is comfortable with the school and team system before he or she steps on the floor. A medical redshirt, or hardship waiver, can be used if a player loses the majority of a season to injury.
Redshirt guard Devin Adams, a communications major from Grantsville, is using his redshirt year before he leaves on an Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mission. He was expecting to play this year but admits that this will be better for him down the road.
“Sitting out is never fun,” he said, “It’s hard not being able to help the team on game days, but it’s important to get used to the speed of college basketball. It has really helped remind me why I play and love the game.”
Players often use a redshirt year to their advantage by working to improve their fundamentals and techniques. Sterling Brandley, a redshirt freshman business accounting major from Ogden, was a redshirt last year and did exactly that.
“It really helped me adjust to the speed of the college game and competition,” Brandley said. “If I had any advice for players that are currently redshirting, it would be to just stick it out. It’s worth it.”
Even though the redshirt players are not awarded with any actual playing time, they are still an integral part of the team, head coach Jon Judkins said.
“They are completely involved with the rest of the team.” Judkins said. “They come to meetings, study halls, parties and everything else. Without our redshirts, this program would not be the same.”