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August 2, 2021

Redshirt | An Athletes Experience with being a Two-year Red Shirt, Transfer, and a Medical DQ

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Lindsay Sammis started her collegiate soccer career at Kansas University and then transferred to the University of Rhode Island after her freshman year. Not only was Lindsay a transfer, but she was also a two-year red shirt who faced recurring injuries, resulting in a medical DQ.

She struggled with ongoing knee injuries and was never completely healthy. She tore her ACL a few months before her freshman year and decided it was best to take her time with the rehab process and not rush back. Her second red shirt was her first year at the University of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, she tore her meniscus at the start of the season before she ever got to play in a game. Both redshirts and her continuous knee problems eventually caused Lindsay to medically retire. 

Lindsey had a unique college experience, and we thought it would be helpful for her to share some valuable information with future collegiate athletes. 

LRT Sports: When did you decide to transfer from Kansas to URI, and what was the motivating factor? How long were you thinking about transferring before you told your coaches?

I decided to go to Kansas a month before preseason. I decommitted from another school after my high school graduation (that is a whole other story). It was never my dream school. I was at Kansas fresh off of an ACL tear trying to come back, and I had limited options due to the timing. I was not recovering how I wanted to and was playing far below my previous level. It was an easy decision to transfer because, in my discussions with the coaches, I was not going to see the field any time soon at KU. I spoke to the coaches about a month before about how I would likely be transferring, and we agreed it was the right decision. But it was not set in stone. I was waiting for my club coach to put out feelers before I got my release. They allowed me to keep training and practicing through spring. About a month later, they told me they were going to release me; they didn’t want me at practice anymore.

LRT Sports: The transferring process can be complicated. When you decided you wanted to transfer, did you ask for a release from your coach? Did you put yourself in the transfer portal? Was it challenging to get in contact with other coaches?

They released me without conditions. So a coach can release you, not release you, or release you with certain conditions. Mine was unconditional, meaning I could go to any school. I know someone who was released with the condition they can not play at any school the team will face in the next four years. Other people don’t get released at all, meaning they need to sit one year. Coming from a power conference, it was easy to talk to other coaches. My club coach had also been putting feelers out for me before I was released. I reached out to everyone who had recruited me previously then started targeting East Coast schools because I had always wanted to go east for school.

LRT Sports: How did you prepare to tell the coaches and staff at your school? 

I think we leave this one out Jay– I never told them and never said bye LOL.

LRT Sports: Did you have any trouble transferring your credits? Did you lose any credits? Did you have to change your major?

I did lose credits. This is dependent on what school you transfer to- they all have their own rules. I had not declared a major yet, so this was not a problem. 

LRT Sports: What year did you take your redshirt? Athletes decide to redshirt due to physical necessity, strategic reasoning, and academic requirements. Why did you choose to redshirt?

My first year was a freshman redshirt. Anyone can take a freshman redshirt- it does not have to be medical. I was not cleared off of my ACL tear until the season was in full swing, so it did not make sense to try to play. I was not mentally or physically ready.

I had another redshirt my sophomore year. The day before our first game in pregame practice, I tore my meniscus. I tried to play through it in practice but ultimately could not. I had my second surgery at the end of September and was not cleared to play before the season was over. This was a medical redshirt that has to be taken on advice of a doctor. 

LRT Sports: Did you take your redshirt year? If you decided not to take it, what was the reasoning?

I did not use either of my redshirts because I ended up medically retiring.

LRT Sports: A redshirt allows student-athletes to branch out and experience other parts of the college experience, but sometimes there are some drawbacks. Some redshirt athletes don’t always feel like they are a part of the team. Throughout your redshirt year, did you feel like there was a lack of involvement?

I felt very apart of the team in my sophomore redshirt year. I was able to work out and attended every practice. I had already made it through the pain of preseason before it happened. This is when the team really comes together, so I had already been integrated into the new school and team. The worst part is that you don’t travel, but that helped me focus on recovery and getting good grades.

LRT Sports: Deciding to medically retire is one of the hardest things an athlete goes through. How long were you struggling with the injury that caused you to medical DQ? Did the doctor recommend that you medical DQ?

The injury started in high school. I sat out two seasons because of it. When I hurt my knee again and faced my third surgery, it was a huge decision. I could have my ACL repaired (the graft had stretched to the point where it was there but failing), or I could stop playing soccer. I had gone through so much pain trying to play through it that in many ways, I lost my love for the game. I associated practice with pain. I knew If I had the surgery, I would be out the next season, and the only way I would play again is if I took a 5th year. I decided it was time to move on. The only way you can medically retire is a doctor’s recommendation, so it was under my doctor’s advice that I stopped playing.

LRT Sports: If you were on a scholarship, did you still receive that money even after you medically retired?

Yupp! Just one reason I love how the NCAA treats its athletes. I was able to have my scholarship in both my Senior year and Graduate year due to the language of my contract. 

LRT Sports: Were you required to participate in team events after you medical retire?

No, you are released from all team requirements. The only thing that is possible- which I am not aware of any cases of- is you can still be selected for drug testing. 

LRT Sports: Did the coaches or athletes treat you differently, where you were excluded or felt ostracized?

I think most retired athletes distance themselves to cope with not playing anymore. It’s hard to watch all your friends be together and not feel left out. I continued my friendships with my friends and was happy with the outcome.