Inquiry Not Quite End of the Line

Brittany Lovette, Reporter

Redshirting, a popular term heard on ESPN and during Division I broadcasts, is no longer a term in Division II and Division III sports. A medical hardship waiver, however, provides the same benefit as redshirting, but it comes with strict rules.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s [NCAA] website, red shirting is a delay in a student-athlete’s participation with the team in an effort to lengthen the time that player is eligible.  A redshirted student-athlete remains on a team and practices but does not participate in any athletic contest.

According to Athletic Director David Martin redshirting does not exist in Division III sports because of past incidents of cheating. State schools in Wisconsin were the strategy to play fifth year seniors who were bigger and stronger than younger players. He said that since there is no redshirting in Division III athletics, the only way a student-athlete can have an extra year of eligibility is is in the case of a season-ending injury.

That’s where the medical hardship waiver comes to play.  According to the NCAA Division III Bylaws a student-athlete must have a “season-ending injury or illness that occurs before the completion of the first half of the traditional playing season, [which] results in incapacity to complete for remainder of season.” The student-athlete must have competed in less than one third of the maximum contests in the sport, according to NCAA bylaws.

Administrators must determine if the student-athlete who seeks a waiver will be granted another year of eligibility within their sport.

Some student-athletes on campus use their own strategies for preserving play time, at least partially because many are unaware of the rules.

Former cheerleader and graduate student Kayla Whipple tore her anterior cruciate ligament near the end of her freshman year in March 2009. She took the summer off to let it rest before she elected to have knee surgery at the end of the summer break.

During her time at cheerleading camp, at the end of that summer, Whipple was again injured and learned she needed surgery to repair her torn ACL and knee.

“Then I had to go back to the doctor and he said ‘Yeah you are going to need the surgery,'” said Whipple. “So that was when I kind of knew okay there is no way I can do this season because no matter what even if I waited for the next summer, that was too long.”

Although she did not participate in the sport during her sophomore year, she attended games to help support her team so that they would know she would be back as soon as she got better.

“I stayed on the team as long as I possibly could, and even when I wasn’t on the team, I helped fundraise, I would come to all the basketball games. The cool thing was I could still be  a part of the team.  I never felt that I was excluded, ” said Whipple.

Whipple had surgery in December 2009 and was able to heal and undergo physical therapy in time for her junior year. She used heryear off from cheerleading to focus on academics and  strengthen her knee.

“Getting back in, I was really nervous, one because I felt like I didn’t want people on the team to look at me as a quitter. I didn’t want them to think ‘Oh she left the team just because,'” said Whipple. “Honestly, it was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. It literally tore me apart.”

Junior Julia Blaskiewicz, who runs cross country and track and field is no stranger to injuries either. Blaskiewicz started her freshman year with a stress fracture in her femur, and that prevented her from competing in sports. She used her first year on campus to train.

Blaskiewicz received another stress fracture in her foot soon after she started track and field and could not run for another six weeks.

“Finally as a junior, I am injury free,” said Blaskiewicz.

Blaskiewicz became frustrated because as a runner, she couldn’t compete in the sport she loved. The only thing she could do to stay in shape was to use the stationary bikes in the fitness center.

“I was really upset. I was really disappointed because I trained all summer, and the day I’m supposed to come back to do time trials and stuff, I literally couldn’t run,” said Blaskiewicz. “I was in so much pain that it was so nice to get an MRI that proved that I wasn’t just being a baby. That there really was something wrong.”

Because this year is her first completely injury free, Blaskiewicz thought it was cool to see if she could improve her time by two minutes.

“It’s cool to see your improvements and show that your hard work does pay off,” said Blaskiewicz.

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