Ten semesters of school, but four years of athletic eligibility. What does that add up to? The trend of voluntarily redshirting on competitive college teams. It is most heard of with college football teams, or men’s teams in general, but what happens when a women’s college lacrosse team picks up the redshirt trend?
While I was being recruited as a Sophomore in High School, it was a huge blur. When a top-five team told me that there was a spot for me, I knew there was no guarantee of playing time, but I also knew I had the potential to. By committing to such an esteemed competitive program, I knew that playing time was just one factor and I was committing to the experience and culture of being on one of the best teams in the NCAA.
However, the experience of being on that team turned out to be very different from what I expected. At one of the first practices in the Fall of my Freshman year, I was taken aside and asked by the coaches to voluntarily redshirt, along with five other first-year students in my class. They knew how to sell it, so it felt like we were being invested in and the coaches wanted us around for an extra year of playing time.
At the time there were 50 girls on the roster. That’s right, 50 girls on a women’s college lacrosse team. It was competitive, and it was a final four team, so we all knew going in that our chances of getting quality playing time our freshman year were slim, especially when there were 17 seniors including 5th-year players.
After giving it some thought, all 6 of us decided to redshirt before fall ball officially started. That was half of our freshmen class, 6 out of 12. This was also prior to a rule change that redshirts could participate in off-season games, so the six of us practiced, lifted, conditioned, and did everything the team did besides play in games.
Once Spring came around, and we were officially in-season, things began to shift. Not only were the 6 of us isolated from the rest of the team, but there was also a disconnect with the rest of our class who did not redshirt. The most disappointing and discouraging moment came when a fellow freshman, who was starting and getting playing time that season, told us that a 5th year senior advised her not to be friends with the redshirts because “it’s a waste of time and they will never play.”
Luckily, that first-year students did not follow the 5th year senior’s advice and remained close friends with us to this day. The same cannot be said for that 5th year.
Onto ACC’s and the playoff portion of the season, there are only 35 players allowed on the sideline during these events. Due to having 50 players on the team it meant besides the people playing on the field, some players had to sit in the stands. We had to sit in the stands for our own game while sitting behind our team. It wasn’t a punishment; there was nothing we did wrong, it’s just the way things were. It was something that we had to deal with and we were expected to suck it up, not take it personally, and cheer on our teammates.
The final blow of that season occurred the week before playoff games started. The redshirts and players who never saw the field were told they did not need to come to practice that week or participate. Instead, we were asked to go home. Bizarre, right?
The reasoning behind this was that the seniors’ leases for their homes were up and did not extend through playoffs. The redshirt freshmen lived in apartments together and were asked to leave so that the seniors could move into their apartments for the entire duration of playoffs.
The week leading up to the first playoff game, while we moved out of our apartments the rest of the team left mid-week to get to the playoff site and participate in bonding activities. The morning of the first round of playoffs, that Sunday, the redshirts traveled to the game separately and drove back separately that same night. After that game, we had two weeks off to “make some money and find a summer job back home,” as our coach put it.
We did not reconvene until the Final Four tournament, two weeks later. During those two weeks, the rest of the team was given generous per diem to compensate for expenses they faced while staying at school for playoffs. The redshirts received nothing because we were all sent home.
After a year of this inadequate treatment from coaches as well as teammates, it might be shocking that all six of us stayed and didn’t transfer. Well none of us transferred because we were all given hope that redshirting would pay off for us. Where are we now you might ask?
Half of the redshirts, three out of six, have not returned to play lacrosse our senior year. One of the redshirts is chronically injured after blowing out her knee two years ago and has continued to face multiple surgeries on her ACL, MCL, and meniscus to this day. The remaining two redshirts have found success on the team and have gotten decent playing time.
Stories like this are rare to hear on recruiting trips and official visits when looking at a school because coaches do not want to highlight the negative experiences some players might have. Knowledge is key when making a decision to pick a school, to change positions, or to redshirt like myself. To hear more stories about what really goes on behind the scenes of other college teams check out the Huddle blog and more content on http://lrt-sports.com/.
Posted on February 20, 2019 in Life of a College Athlete
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.