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Redshirt to role player

Jaryd Cline, Staff Reporter - January 16. 2013

A miniature Fisher Price basketball hoop hangs from the edge of a crib as a small orange plush basketball drops straight through the net, thus starting the basketball career of Joey Roppo.

“I started playing [basketball] when I was in kindergarten, but I remember having a hoop set up in my crib when I was one year old,” Roppo said.

The redshirt freshman has appeared in 12 out of 13 games for the Wildcats this year and is averaging about four points per game while playing around 12 minutes a game. Roppo ranked as high as eighth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with his 47.8 percent accuracy from the three-point range.

Before Roppo attended Central and started playing for the Wildcats, he led the Monroe high school Bearcats to their first state tournament appearance since 1994 and was also named to the all-WesCo 4A North first team. Shortly after Roppo decided to sign with Everett Community College until he was offered a scholarship by Central.

“He has a tremendous work ethic and an unbelievable attitude,” Central Washington head coach Greg Sparling said. “Everything he does he does it to the best of his ability.”

Roppo arrived at Central in the fall of 2011 for his freshman year of college but wasn’t able to play basketball due to the team redshirting him. Redshirting a player is described as delaying an athlete’s participation in order to lengthen his or her period of eligibility. In a redshirt year, a student athlete may attend classes at the college or university, practice with an athletic team, and dress for play but he or she may not compete during the game.

“I had a great experience [redshirting], I loved it,” said Roppo. “It stinks that you can’t play but I was really happy with getting my feet wet and learning and just getting my first college experience, which made it a lot easier for this year.”

Redshirting for a year may have helped Roppo in more ways than just getting the valuable experience of playing with some of the best players in the league.

“This year you can tell definitely he’s a lot more mature,” Sparling said. “He should be fun to coach for the next three years.”
Teammates of Roppo have also noticed his maturity in the locker room.

“Joey is an ultimate teammate,” senior guard Jordan Starr said. “He is always positive and I have always thought that he is mature beyond his years.”

Playing in the GNAC as a freshman isn’t by any means a small feat.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s very tough for freshman to play in our conference right out of the gate,” Sparling said.

Despite the early playing time as only a freshman, Roppo still has his eyes set at continuing to hone his skills and be the best basketball player that he can be. Roppo hopes to become a better overall all-around player sometime in the near future.
One other area that Roppo and the rest of the Wildcats hope to improve is their defense. Central ranks last in the GNAC in opponents scoring average and ninth out of ten in field goal percentage defense.

Off the basketball court and on the campus of Central Roppo hopes to earn a degree in accounting, which he hopes will lead him to a job as an accountant in the future.

“He’s really organized and dependable and I think that’s going to really help him out in the real world” Sparling said. “When you work as hard as him and are as dependable as he is, you know he is going to be very valuable to some business or company when he gets out of here.”

During the season Roppo and his teammates keep busy with all the basketball. During an average day in basketball season Roppo stays busy with the multiple practices, multiple classes, homework, weight lifting, and other college activities.

“It takes up all day,” Roppo said. “I definitely say I am busier than the regular students.”

Along with getting his degree and possibly becoming an accountant when he graduates, Roppo hopes that he can stay close to basketball even after his career at Central.

“Hopefully I can coach somewhere,” Roppo said. “Maybe I can play overseas if I get the opportunity but I have a long ways to go for that.”

In just his short time at Central, Roppo has already begun making an impact on the basketball team with his great work ethic and his always improving play.

“He is somebody that every team needs, a hard working respectful individual,” Starr said. “I think he has a bright future here at Central Washington University.”

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