In college sports, “redshirt” is a common term that is thrown around.
Being redshirted as an athlete means he or she is withheld from competition but does not lose a year of eligibility.
Freshman Sean Horan is on Butler’s football team and was redshirted this year.
Horan said he wanted to play coming into his first collegiate year, but it just didn’t happen.
“(Coach Jeff Voris) pulled me and the three other redshirted linebackers aside after a practice before the season started and told us that we probably won’t have the opportunity to play this year,” Horan said.
“There weren’t really any other options besides redshirting because I knew I wasn’t prepared to play in a college game just yet.”
Sitting on the sidelines was a new experience for Horan, who was used to starting.
“I was understanding and knew that I was making the team better in practice even though I could not go out on the field on Saturdays,” Horan said.
Junior Sarah Hamm is another Butler athlete who was redshirted this year, but in her case, it was due to injury.
Hamm earned all-conference honors last season for the Butler women’s basketball team but had to sit out this season after she tore her ACL.
Hamm said she thought about trying to battle back from her injury, but she decided redshirting was her best option because of the lengthy recovery time.
Players may receive a “medical redshirt” if they appear in less than 30 percent of their team’s competitions.
Hamm can play next year as a senior and can also compete in a fifth year at Butler if she chooses.
Like Horan, Hamm did not let redshirting prevent her from contributing to the team this year.
Hamm was one of the most experienced players on the team and used her knowledge to help others.
“We have such a young team this year that I think having a more seasoned player on the sidelines to help really helped them understand things a little better,” Hamm said. “As a post player, I’m always watching my fellow posts and seeing if there’s anything I can help them with.”
Hamm took a lot away from being sidelined this year.
“I also feel like I’ll be a smarter player because I have been able to sit on the sidelines and watch a lot of basketball, and I think I’ve learned a lot from being an observer,” Hamm said.
Had she recovered from her injury mid-season, she could have given up her redshirt to help the team out this year because receiving a redshirt does not mean a player is ineligible for the entire year.
The best example of this can be found in senior Becca Bornhorst, another women’s basketball player.
Bornhorst, like Hamm, had a medical redshirt but decided to play in the second half of the season.
A redshirt can be lifted from a player if he or she shows significant talent, growth or recovery.
Bornhorst understood due to the delay in her surgery date that even if she waited out this year, she may have missed next year because of the recovery time for her surgery.
Bornhorst had her redshirt lifted because she missed the game of basketball and wanted to help her team.
“I’m not going to be a starter like I was last year, but, you know, I would be a role player if they need me for a few minutes here and there and just be able to play and practice a little bit,” Bornhorst said.
Bornhorst made her first appearance for Butler on Feb. 17 against St. Bonaventure, playing six minutes in the contest.
Regardless of the situation, it is hard for athletes to be taken from the competition and the game they grew up playing.
“I love playing basketball, and that makes it very difficult to sit and watch,” Hamm said. “It’s hard to have something like that taken away from you.”