Student Athlete Identity Development and the Role of Coaches

Grams, Tyler, Higher Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Pusser, Brian, ED-EDLF Department, University of Virginia

Intercollegiate athletics has been a complex component of American higher education throughout its history, especially as the collegiate athletic enterprise has expanded exponentially in recent decades (Clotfelter, 2011). These debates have produced mixed results for the impact that intercollegiate athletics has on its participants (Comeaux, 2019). Studies have found that intercollegiate sport participation has a negative effect on both student development (Watson & Kissinger, 2007) and also that participation yields long term benefits (Shakib, Veliz, Dunbar, & Sabo, 2011). This case study looks at the role of coaches as mentors (DuBois and Karcher, 2014) in one men’s college basketball program and their impact on identity development (Erikson, 1959/1980), identity status (Marcia, 1966), and identity foreclosure (Murphy, Petitpas, & Brewer, 1996) of student athletes. Participants from three groups (student athletes, coaches, and administrators) were asked about the impact that coaches have on the development of student athletes in one program. Seven themes emerged which are identified and analyzed in this paper: (1) the importance of establishing trust in relationships between students and coaches/staff, (2) playing time as a critical piece to the coach/student relationship and student athlete experience, (3) reliance on departmental resources for identity development, (4) the impact of team culture on individual mindset, (5) lack of awareness of identity development/identity foreclosure as a part of the student athlete experience, (6) the impact of time demands on coaches and students when prioritizing personal development, and (7) individual responsibility in one’s own identity development.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
College Student Athlete, Identity Development, Coaches
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