The Division-I Redshirt-Freshman Year: Benefits and Pitfalls for Black Football Players

Matteo, Jackson, Higher Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Steinmetz, Christian

Although the experiences of Black student-athletes have been an area of research in higher education as of recent, the transition from high school to college for Black student-athletes has received little attention. The transition from high school to college can be a difficult life transition; however, Black Division-I football players at predominantly White institutions (PWI) face unique and compounding challenges related to their racial, academic, and athletic identities. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the transition experiences that Black Division-I football players at a PWI go through, this study illuminates transition experiences related to the redshirt-freshman year and the perceived effects that the redshirt-freshman year can have on this demographic as they transition to a PWI. A qualitative “phenomenological” methodology undergirded by Schlossberg’s (2011) transition theory and four S’s framework was employed for data collection, and critical race theory (CRT) provided a lens for data analysis to examine participants’ experiences with redshirting as it pertains to race and racism. Findings revealed that during their redshirt-freshman year, participants felt isolated from their team, disassociated with their athletic identities, and largely unsupported by coaches and academic support staffs. Other factors that affected their experiences, such as feelings of academic inadequacy and racial microaggressions in academia, were discussed and revealed. Implications for intercollegiate athletics, recruitment processes, and student-athlete development are discussed.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
redshirt, Black student-athletes, Division-I football, transition, college athletics
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