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  • Dean Stephens

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Redshirting: A game of development

Posted: Updated:

By Dean Stephens
dstephens@abcnews4.com

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- The word is commonly associated with college athletics.

An athlete is redshirted when they are held out of their sport for a year, allowing them to grow and perform at a higher level by gaining an extra year to compete.

Now, it has become a trend with our children.

"Redshirting, holding the child back so they are older has tripled since the 70s in this country," said Dr. Jennifer White-Baughan, a Mount Pleasant psychologist who has worked with kids for the past 25 years.

"The question is what kind of balance do we have in this country on the actual value added that we are giving to our children when we are moving them ahead?" Dr. White-Baughan said.

If it is to enjoy the bright lights of athletic stardom, the doctor said parents should be realistic. One area coach emphasizes, the final score is difficult to predict in the middle of the game.

"I would be very hard as a recruiter, and I don't think you could find one who would put their name on a sixth grader. Just too many factors go into development," said CSU head baseball coach Stuart Lake.

Lake played college baseball at CSU and has coached and recruited on the Division I level for the past 18 years.

"Parents better be looking at other factors than athletics," Lake said.

Dr. White-Baughan said parents need to trust their gut and not just worry about hot their children can get a leg up on the competition. She says they need to examine if they are holding their child back for the right reasons.

Jermel President was held back his sixth grade year. He openly admits his focus was on everything but school.

"That year being held back allowed me to mature during the summer, attack the social wars of being a teenager and also the academic strengths of school," President said.

It also set the stage for an athletic career. President played basketball at Burke High School and the College of Charleston, and he is convinced without that extra year he would have never found himself on top.

"From a behavioral standpoint, I didn't want to act out. I wasn't competing with anyone. I think with me being older, I wanted to show my maturation to the group. So, that allowed me athletically, socially and academically to stay focused," President said.

Dave Spurlock has focused on sports for the past 40 years. He spent countless Friday nights coaching on Lowcountry sidelines and is now Charleston County's Athletic Director. Spurlock says redshirting kids on the high school level is just not possible.

"You would have to have counselors, principals and teachers all involved. That kind of thing is just not happening in Charleston County. What we're trying to do is to get them to graduate and not hold them back," Spurlock said.

Dr. White-Baughan believes an empty field of dreams can strike at a child's development, but holding them back could provide a home run in the areas that really matter.

"The concern is are we teaching those really core values that we pay a lot of lip service to in our children so there is a balance to success and competition and being the best?" Dr. White-Baughan said.

Experts believe that if a child is to be held back, the ideal time is kindergarten or first grade. President runs a foundation which helps student-athletes find the best fit for the next level wherever that may be. More information on President can be found at daefoundation.org.

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