The term “redshirt” is one that is heard often but rarely if ever explained.
Athletes become redshirts in order to spread four years of playing eligibility over five years of an academic career.
Redshirts have to be disciplined enough to workout on their own, despite not being able to compete with their team during their redshirt year.
Jay Culpepper, a red-shirted second-year criminal justice major from Madison, is a long-snapper for the football team and can attest to the long hours spent on the field.
“Monday we have off, Tuesday is full pads and so is Wednesday,” Culpepper said.
“Thursdays is shells [just helmets and shoulder pads], Friday we have a walk-through and Sunday we lift, run and watch film.”
Student-athletes become used to juggling school and sports, training five or six days a week while still hitting the books.
Preparing for an opponent can be a strenuous process.
The athletes must be physically and psychologically prepared when they face their opponent.
Tennis is also a sport that absolutely requires mental preparation.
“It is more important to have a mental edge in tennis,” said Michael Moore, tennis team member. “You can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if you play against somebody who can think and put the points together mentally, you’re going to lose.”
Coaches often lighten up on practices once the athletes begin to face their opponents.
“Our off-season training is much more intense than regular season practices,” Moore said.
“We spend as much time as we can working on our weaknesses, even if it’s practicing twice in a day. By the time the season comes, it’s matches every weekend and very tough on the body, so practices are less intense.”
The physical exertion, although challenging, is always the athlete’s choice.
“Our team doesn’t have to be told to practice, we are very hard workers and we’re competitive, so many times we have practice without our coach being there, if we feel we need to,” Moore said.
Willis McPhee, a third-year broadcast journalism student from Apopka, is a small forward on the basketball team.
McPhee is a red-shirt transfer student from Hawaii Pacific University, and he can’t play this season out due to NCAA regulations.
Even though he won’t be on the court this fall, he is doing everything he can to be ready next year.
“I’ll continue to workout in the gym four times a week on ball-handling and shooting,” McPhee said. “Along with gym time, I plan on lifting three times a week.”
McPhee’s desire to improve is what keeps all athletes in the mindset to continue training.
“I am a student of the game, so adding new aspects to my game will be something I’ll do while away,” McPhee said.