That's not the case for Baker University sophomore wrestler Robert Shadrach. The 197- pound wrestler came to Baker in 2010 from his hometown of Kearney, Mo., as a 26 year-old redshirt.
Shadrach has wrestled since he was six years old. In high school, he was ranked as one of the top 30 wrestlers in the country his sophomore through senior season. He was a four-time state placer and state champion his junior year.
With all that on his wrestling resume, you may wonder "why the long absence from the sport?"
"After high school, I chose to stay home and take care of my brother and sister," he said, "My mom was recently divorced and I wanted to help her out."
Robert's younger brother, Travis a senior on the wrestling team, was in 8th grade at the time. Their mom had no way of getting Travis to his wrestling tournaments or his school functions.
"I chose to kind of take on a father role," he said, "I was taking care of my sister too, all while trying to support my Mom."
He spent a few of years helping his Mom out by shuttling his brother and sister around and working here and there to help her pay the bills. At one point, he even coached Travis for a season, while Travis was a freshman in high school.
"When my mom got more on her feet, I started to go about my life," Robert said, "I started working construction and doing jobs here and there."
At the age of 21, Robert moved to Lawrence, Kan., to attend school and be closer to friends. He began attending career school to become a personal trainer. After completing the 10-month program, he started personal training and continued with that for three years.
One day, Robert was missing the sport and was looking for an outlet to get back on the mat.
"I was looking for a wrestling workout and my brother had recently signed with Baker," Robert said, "I came up to workout and then a couple weeks later Coach May wanted to recruit me."
At that point, Robert chose to follow his dreams of becoming an All-American, and walked on to wrestle at Baker.
Two years later, he turned his dream into a reality, placing seventh at the 2012 NAIA National Tournament as a freshman.
Now, just halfway through his sophomore season Robert has set the bar higher. This year he won't be happy with just being an All-American, he has his sights set on a National Championship.
Shadrach and the rest of the Wildcats will hit the mat next on Jan. 12-13 in Springfield, Ill., at the NWCA National Duals.