I remember hearing a lot about redshirts growing up, but I never thought that word would impact my life so much.
For those of you who don’t know, a redshirt is a student-athlete who sits out an entire year of their sports in order to preserve a year of NCAA eligibility. A student-athlete can redshirt if their coach thinks they need another year before they play, or they can redshirt if they’re transferring from another school.
I announced my decision to transfer from Boise State to Southern Utah in May 2017. I knew I was making the right decision for myself, but I didn’t realize how hard redshirting was going to be.
To say that my redshirt year was one of the toughest years of my life is an understatement. It was a year filled with constant ups and downs. Lots of good times, but lots of tough learning experiences, too.
The biggest positive of sitting out a whole year was the learning experience. I took in a lot of different things while observing my team play, things that will help me for this upcoming season and for the rest of my playing career.
One thing that I learned is the importance of taking care of your body. After seeing a lot of my teammates go down last year with injuries, it opened my eyes that my body isn’t bionic like I once thought. I figured out that you can stay a step ahead of your opponents by simply just recovering your body more than them.
That meant ice baths after practice, lots of stretching, and getting enough sleep. Recovery is so important. Unfortunately, I learned this from watching my teammates’ bodies break down.
Another thing that sitting out helped me with is developing my confidence. From an observer’s standpoint, you see a lot of things that should’ve been done better and a lot of things you feel like you could have done better. During practice, these things translated to my game. I was trying out things that I’ve never done before just because I could with no consequences. It was actually super fun.
On scout team, I was simulating the opponents that my team would play. So, I was taking shots that a lot of top players in the country would take. And I figured out that I could do a lot of things that I had never tried before.
One major downside of sitting out was my depleting mental health. Believe it or not, I felt depressed at times not being able to play in games, forced to just watch my teammates go to battle without me.
It takes a toll on your mind, and that is the case for a lot of players.
During the season, the team was on the road a lot, so a lot of the time I was alone. I was going to school and not seeing my teammates around and it felt different. And not in a good way.
But I tried to use this time to hit the gym and work on my game. I told myself that if the team was on the road, I’d be putting in work just as if I was there with them. I wanted to work on everything that my game lacked.
Redshirting was a lot more than just a year away from playing in basketball games. It was incredibly difficult at times, but it allowed me to get to know my teammates, my school and work on some of my biggest weaknesses. My coaches have been saying that they can see improvement, my teammates are excited to have me on the court with them, but I’m most excited to show T-Bird Nation what I can do.
The wait will be worth it.
Story by: Cameron Oluyitan for SUU News
Photos by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication