There are 28 athletes on California Baptist University’s men’s wrestling team, but only 13 of them are representing CBU at competitions – the majority of the team are redshirts.
Varsity athletes are eligible to play on a team for four seasons, which is normally the length of time it takes to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
However, rather than actively playing all four consecutive years on a team, athletes are given the option to redshirt.
Redshirts practice with the team and are a part of the team just like any of the other players, but the year that an athlete redshirts is not considered one of the four years of eligibility.
Athletes choose to redshirt for a number of reasons. Sometimes students cannot find the balance between academics and collegiate sports and may decide to take a year off competing to focus on their academics.
Another reason athletes might choose to spend a year redshirting is to improve skill so they are ready to compete at their highest ability.
For CBU’s men’s wrestling team, it is common for an athlete to choose to redshirt because there is more than one competitor in their weight class.
Brad Beaudette, junior business major and member of CBU’s wrestling team, chose to spend this season as a redshirt to improve his ability, but also because there are two other teammates in his weight class.
Paul Head and Caleb Gerl accompany Beaudette in 184s and currently, Gerl is the varsity competitor for that weight class.
Head was the frontrunner of his weight class prior to Gerl coming to the team this year.
Beaudette said he wanted to use this year to gain more skill, and also transition into competing at CBU after transferring from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
In the meantime, redshirts compete in open tournaments by themselves, independent from their team.
The school does not finance these events, so the wrestlers are required to pay for their own expenses and they are not allowed to wear any CBU gear.
Beaudette said he has competed in every single open tournament, which he said he feels will better prepare him for the next seasons.
Wrestling head coach Lennie Zalesky explained that the redshirts play a vital role on the wrestling team. The athletes who are currently not on the varsity team are working hard to compete at their highest level of ability.
“If it was just the varsity guys, we really wouldn’t have much to build on for the next year,” Zalesky said.
Redshirts also provide different types of workout partners for practices as they refine their skills.
Each individual athlete brings a different style to his wrestling technique that further prepares the currently competing athletes.
Each athletic team at CBU strives to produce the strongest combination of talent that will take the team to the championships.
CBU has produced wrestlers who have won both individual and team accolades.
Whether they are competing in CBU wrestling meets or redshirting for a season, every man on the team plays an important role in the team’s success.