ArticlePDF Available

Female Student-Athletes’ Transition out of Collegiate Competition



Research in the area of athletic identity has grown immensely since it was first brought forward in academic work nearly 20 years ago. The ideas of athletic identity have expanded into the areas of relating to injury and rehabilitation, transitioning into collegiate athletics, transitioning out of collegiate athletics, professional careers in sport, and even identity formation through sport. This research explored the experiences of 10 women who had completed their collegiate eligibility and had transitioned out of collegiate competition. Three themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: (a) Sense of Loss, (b) Bewilderment, and (c) Enjoy the Experience. All the respondents agreed that transition was inevitable, but there were mixed results on whether the transition out of sport was positive or negative. The findings also revealed the struggle of creating an identity outside of sport. The participants indicated establishing new social circles, new routines with fitness, and separating from their sport were challenging. The respondents also believed it was their responsibility to offer advice to future transitioning student-athletes so they could be better prepared for their upcoming and inevitable transition out of sport.
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 61
Female Student-Athletes’ Transition
out of Collegiate Competition
Allison B. Smith1 Robin Hardin2
1Virginia Commonwealth University
2University of Tennessee
Research in the area of athletic identity has grown immensely since it was rst
brought forward in academic work nearly 20 years ago. The ideas of athletic identity
have expanded into the areas of relating to injury and rehabilitation, transitioning
into collegiate athletics, transitioning out of collegiate athletics, professional sport
careers, and even identity formation through sport. This research explored the
experiences of 10 women who had completed their collegiate eligibility and had
transitioned out of collegiate competition. Three themes emerged from the semi-
structured interviews: (a) Identity Crisis, (b) Losses and Gains, and (c) Enjoy the
Experience. All the respondents agreed that transition was inevitable, but there
were mixed results on whether the transition out of sport was positive or negative.
The ndings also revealed the struggle of creating an identity outside of sport. The
participants indicated establishing new social circles, new routines with tness, and
separating from their sport were challenging. The respondents also believed it was
their responsibility to offer advice to future transitioning student-athletes so they
could be better prepared for their upcoming transition out of sport.
Collegiate student-athletes highly
invest in their sport and part of
their college choice is likely re-
ective of the opportunity to participate
in sport at the collegiate level (Huff-
man & Cooper, 2012). Student-athletes
deeply immerse themselves in their
sport as some spend nearly 40 hours
a week devoted to athletic activities at
the NCAA Division I level, despite the
20 hour mandated limit during season
from the NCAA (New, 2015). A NCAA
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 62
study found student-athletes spend ap-
proximately 34 hours per week on ath-
letic-related activities and 38.5 hours per
week on academics (National Collegiate
Athletic Association, 2016a). This extra
time comes in the form of watching lm,
additional workouts, or optional practic-
es all in hopes to gain an edge on their
opponents. This deep immersion and
time investment leads many collegiate
student-athletes to not feel competent
without their sport and no longer see
themselves as having personal, autono-
mous traits, but instead see themselves
with traits solely associated with being
a student-athlete (Côté, Baker, & Aber-
nethy, 2007; Lally, 2007).
This commitment further solidies
their athletic identity or ‘‘the degree to
which an individual identies with the
athlete role’’ (Brewer, Van Raalte, &
Linder, 1993, p. 237). Athletic identity can
become personal identity where self-es-
teem and self-worth are tied to sport
participation (Kleiber, Mannell, & Walker,
2011). Collegiate student-athletes narrow
their social circles to sport specic stake-
holders (i.e., coaches, trainers, teammates)
causing their social identity and personal
identity to be highly shaped by sports
(Côté et al., 2007).
Herein is the issue. Collegiate stu-
dent-athletes with high athletic identity
can experience negative physical and
emotional consequences when transition-
ing out of sport (Lally, 2007; Wylleman,
Alfermann, & Lavallee, 2004). They feel
an identity loss when their athletic career
is complete and can experience difcul-
ty transitioning into a new social envi-
ronment and into the work place. Their
lives have been highly organized around
training and competing, and regulated by
coaches, and then there is a shift to inde-
pendently managing their lives (Schwenk,
Goreno, Dopp, & Hipple, 2007). It is
important these collegiate student-athletes
nd a way to develop a new identity and
progress to the next stage of their adult
lives and for many collegiate student-ath-
letes this adjustment to post-sport life
takes a longer period of time (Warriner &
Lavallee, 2008). Thus, the purpose of this
research is to examine the experience of
former female collegiate student-athletes
who have recently transitioned out of
their collegiate athletic careers. This will
provide a foundation to assist in the tran-
sition process for collegiate student-ath-
letes, coaches, administrators, family
members and other stakeholders.
Transition and Loss
of Athletic Identity
Collegiate athletics is a highly selective
realm of competition as only elite stu-
dent-athletes reach this level. Fewer than
5% of high school athletes will compete
at the NCAA level and even fewer at the
Division I – Football Bowl Subdivision
(FBS) level, which is considered the best
among collegiate sports (National Colle-
giate Athletic Association, 2016b). This
decline in participation opportunities
leads to transition out of sport. Those
who do compete at the collegiate level
have four more years to invest their time
and energy into athletics and thus deepen
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 63
their athletic identity. The professional
sport opportunities dwindle drastically
for the nearly 500,000 student-athletes
competing in the NCAA. Thus, the tran-
sition out of sport is basically inevitable
for collegiate student-athletes except for
the most elite.
Transition out of sport occurs either
through retirement, injury, or deselec-
tion. Deselection takes place when a
person is simply not as competent or
skilled as other participants and is the
most common reason for collegiate
student-athletes transition out of sport.
Suddenly, these student-athletes are no
longer “good enough” and have lost
their athletic identity. It has been found
that transition due to deselection or
injury is the most distressing (Lotysz &
Short, 2004; Wylleman et al., 2004). This
process of transitioning out of sport can
cause a loss of athletic identity which re-
sults in harmful effects holistically to the
athlete (i.e., mentally, physically, academ-
ically, and socially; Douglas & Carless,
2009; Lally, 2007; Lotysz & Short, 2004;
Schwenk et al., 2007; Wippert & Wip-
pert, 2008; Wylleman et al., 2004; Wylle-
man, Rosier, & De Knop, 2015).
There is potential for a large sense of
loss and a void and athletes can even be-
come delusional because of this intense
focus or tunnel vision on athletics when
they are no longer able to participate
(Lally, 2007; Lotysz & Short, 2004; Wyl-
leman et al., 2004). The commitment to
a team and sport is important and when
it ends, there can be emotional issues
such as feeling out of control, sense of
helplessness, mood swings, depression,
anxiety, and even in some extreme cases
thoughts of suicide (Lally, 2007; Wyl-
leman et al., 2004). This loss can even
cause physical side effects such as loss of
appetite, disordered eating, changes to
menstrual cycles, weight uctuation, and
insomnia (Blinde & Stratta, 1993; Wylle-
man et al., 2004).
Student-athletes may struggle with
their changing bodies and regulating
nutrition and exercise independently at
the conclusion of their athletic careers
(Lavallee & Robinson, 2007). Collegiate
student-athletes are provided an optimal
nutrition plan (Rodriguez, DiMarco, &
Langley, 2009) due to the concern from
coaches and administrators of an in-
crease in risk for disordered eating and
misguided nutritional practices due to the
nature of competing in elite sport (Cole,
Salvaterra, & Davis, 2005). Collinson and
Hockey (2007) advocated that encour-
aging retiring collegiate student-athletes
to continue a tness routine to provide
stability during the transition time peri-
od. This solidied routine could negate
the loss of self-condence and sense of
distress due to physical changes in their
bodies (i.e., decrease muscle mass and
increased body fat) that occurs when the
transition from sports occur (Warriner
& Lavallee, 2008). Student-athletes who
are forced to retire due to injury struggle
more because of the focus on the recov-
ery from injury and makes the transition
even more challenging (Gilmore, 2008;
Kadlcik & Flemr, 2008; Muscat, 2010).
Maladaptive coping mechanisms
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 64
do occur in retired athletes such as al-
cohol dependence, drug use, increased
smoking, and suicide in extreme cases
(Douglas & Carless, 2009; Schwenk et
al., 2007; Wippert & Wippert, 2008;
Wylleman et al., 2004; Wylleman, Rosier,
& De Knop, 2015). These unfavorable
coping mechanisms are an issue because
student-athletes also consume more
alcohol, are more likely to binge drink,
and experience more drinking related
problems than their non-student-athlete
peers (Taylor, Ward, & Hardin, 2017;
Wylleman et al., 2004). Forty-four per-
cent of male and 33% of female col-
legiate student-athletes participated in
excessive drinking (National Collegiate
Athletic Association, 2014). Nearly one
in four student-athletes also self-reported
using social drugs (i.e., marijuana, tobac-
co, cocaine; National Collegiate Athletic
Association, 2014). These factors are im-
portant to consider because these issues
could become further exacerbated when
they are faced with the loss of their ath-
letic career.
Social and professional issues can also
occur when transitioning out of sport
and losing one’s athletic identity. Colle-
giate student-athletes consistently scored
lower in areas pertaining to career matu-
rity, career knowledge, and understanding
of a preferred job eld which hinders the
transition out of sport (Brown, 1993).
Collegiate student-athletes can become
over-identied with athletics, which
causes them to neglect career options
and academics (Anderson, 2012; McGilli-
vray, Fearn, & McIntosch, 2005). Histor-
ically, collegiate student-athletes are far
behind their non-student-athlete peers
when it comes to planning for a career
due to their lack of goal setting, career
salience, and career decision-making
abilities hindered by their sport involve-
ment (Taylor & Pompas, 1990; Martinus,
2007; Stronach & Adair, 2010). Anderson
(2012) and Lavallee and Robinson (2007)
warned that career uncertainty could lead
to vulnerability, anxiety, and in some cas-
es unemployment when athletic careers
Collegiate student-athletes have lim-
ited opportunities to create a social self
and develop relationships outside of
sport due to their demanding schedules
(Watson, 2003; Watson & Kissinger,
2007). The ability to develop strong and
lasting friendships is an important com-
ponent of developing self-identity and
enhancing the quality of life for a person
(Myers & Sweeney, 2005). Collegiate stu-
dent-athletes who develop relationships
outside of sport have a smoother transi-
tion out of sports (Coakley, 2009; Lally,
2007). The demands of athletic participa-
tion can lead to feelings of social isola-
tion and an increase in feelings of stress
and anxiety (Harris, Altekruse, & Engels,
Positive Transition
Not all transition out of sport is
negative, as many student-athletes have
a positive transition, transfer the skills
from sport to their career, and ourish
in their life after sport. Positive transition
can be aided when collegiate student-ath-
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 65
letes have positive role models to emu-
late, especially for African American col-
legiate student-athletes who participate
in the high-prole sports of football and
men’s basketball (Harrison & Lampman,
2001; Harrison & Lawrence, 2002; 2004).
Collegiate student-athletes should be
provided positive role models, be com-
mitted to academic success, and be aware
that transition is inevitable (Harrison &
Lawrence, 2003). Harrison and Lawrence
(2003) also found career transition was
a process and that planning was needed.
Having a purposeful and planned career
path revolving around the student-ath-
lete’s passions also aids in a positive tran-
sition (Harrison & Lawrence, 2004).
Another method for a positive tran-
sition is the implementation of transfer-
able skills that translate to career maturity
and life after sport for collegiate stu-
dent-athletes. Collegiate student-athletes
can develop high levels of self-worth
from sport, and that can aid in academic
achievement and in their future profes-
sions (Bardick, Bernes, Chorney, Gunn,
McKnight, & Orr, 2009). Retired athletes
who had high self-condence showed
positive perspective on their post-sport
career and abilities to achieve new career
goals (Newell, 2005).
An understanding of transferable
skills acquired through sport can also
aid in positive transition. These transfer-
able skills include self-motivation, time
management, organization, leadership,
exibility, and performing under pressure
(Bardick et al., 2009; Stankovich, Meeker,
& Henderson, 2001). Coping mecha-
nisms also aid in the positive transition
out of sport. These included develop-
ing a leisure pursuit to ll the void of
the sport, seeking employment in the
sport industry, pursuing a fullling ca-
reer outside of the sport profession, and
developing a support network (Boixados,
Cruz, Judge, & Torregrosa, 2004; Kadlcik
& Flemr, 2008; Lotysz & Short, 2004).
There is certainly an adjustment when
a person’s athletic career ends, but it is
not an unmanageable situation. Athletes
do adjust to life without their sport and
the transition becomes easier the longer
the duration away from sport is (Douglas
& Carless, 2009; Lally, 2007; McKenna
& Thomas, 2007; Wippert & Wippert,
2008). Psychosocial support and pro-
gramming also have positive inuenc-
es on the quality of career transition.
Support from spouses, families, friends,
signicant others, coaches, trainers, and
teammates have all been linked to a more
positive inuence on the quality of sport
transition (Fernandez, Stephan, & Fou-
qereau, 2006; Young, Pearce, Kane, &
Pain, 2006; Wippert & Wippert, 2008).
Organizational support including career
planning and discussing the upcoming
transition can meditate issues with tran-
sition for athletes as well (Harrison &
Lawrence, 2004; Schmid & Seiler, 2003).
Pallarés, Azócar, Torregrosa, Selva,
and Ramis (2011) advocated that athletes
who follow a convergent (sport is pri-
oritized but is compatible with another
job or educational pursuit) or parallel
trajectory (sport and education or work
are almost equally prioritized) transition
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 66
smoothly and adapt to their new stages
of life. In comparison to the linear tra-
jectory (athlete focuses solely on the ded-
ication to his or her sport and develops
an almost exclusive athletic identity) that
has historically been highly emphasized
by coaches and administrators (Azó-
car, Pérez, Pallarés, & Torregrosa, 2013;
Pallarés et al., 2011; Torregrosa, Ramis,
Pallarés, Azócar, & Selva, 2015).
The United States Olympic Commit-
tee (USOC) and the European Union
(EU Expert Group) have begun advo-
cating for providing preventive resources
in order to allow athletes to balance their
athletic careers with education, work, and
other life skills (EU Expert Group, 2012;
USOC, 2012). This dual career approach
allows athletes to avoid situations of
forced decisions between athletic careers
and long-term transition life care. The
NCAA, like the USOC and EU Expert
Group, has also made signicant strides
to provide transition programs for colle-
giate student-athletes in the past decade.
The NCAA has an Innovation and Re-
search Grant Fund which funds research
projects in the areas of concern and
challenges for collegiate student-athletes
such as mental health, transition, long
term health and physical activity, and
leadership initiatives (National Collegiate
Athletic Association, 2018). The NCAA
launched a partnership with the National
Association of Academic Advisors for
Athletics (N4A) to begin daily oversight
and operation of programming for col-
legiate student-athletes in life skills and
professional development at the confer-
ence and institutional level (National Col-
legiate Athletic Association, 2016c).
Purpose of the Study
College student-athletes can face chal-
lenges in physical and emotional well-be-
ing, career planning and developing so-
cial networks when their athletic careers
end. Athletic identity is basically the only
identity known to them and then they are
suddenly at a loss. These student-athletes
are not always prepared to transition out
of sport as they have devoted most of
their time to sport and have spent limited
time in academic and social pursuits. Col-
legiate student-athletes have not devel-
oped as much socially as their peers and
are not always aware of how to transfer
their skills to their professional pursuits
(Bardick et al., 2009; Harrison & Lamp-
man, 2001; Harrison & Lawrence, 2002;
2004). Transitioning out of sport and the
loss of an athletic identity can cause psy-
chological harm (e.g., feeling out of con-
trol, sense of helplessness, mood swings,
depression, anxiety, and even in some
extreme cases thoughts of suicide) phys-
ical harm (e.g., loss of appetite, changes
to menstrual cycles, weight uctuation,
depression, alcohol use, and insomnia)
(Anderson, 2012; Blinde & Stratta, 1993;
Lally, 2007). Thus, it is important to un-
derstand this process so support can be
given to collegiate student-athletes during
this signicant time in their lives.
The purpose of this study was to ex-
amine experiences of former female col-
legiate student-athletes who transitioned
out of collegiate sport and began a career
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 67
in collegiate athletics administration.
Targeting former female student-athletes
who are now working in collegiate ath-
letics administration was warranted for
several reasons. First, positive transition
can occur when collegiate student-ath-
letes seek employment in another facet
of sport (Boixados et al., 2004). Second,
women were specically targeted due
to challenges related to women working
in collegiate athletics. Women encoun-
ter different experiences and challenges
working in collegiate athletics than men
(Burton, 2015; Smith, Taylor, & Hardin,
2017, Taylor & Hardin, 2016). These
challenges included homologous repro-
duction, homophobia, lack of same sex
mentors, and an unequal assumption
of intelligence and competence causing
women to face career mobility issues
(Bass, Hardin, & Taylor, 2015; Kam-
phoff, 2010; Kilty, 2006, Taylor & Har-
din, 2016). These women are not only
transitioning out of their athletic careers,
but they are entering a profession where
women experience difculty in regard to
career mobility. It is important to un-
derstand the experience of women tran-
sitioning out of elite competition (e.g.,
collegiate athletics) so coaches, adminis-
trators, teammates, family members, and
other stakeholders can assist in this life
change. This research also expands on
the work of Saxe, Hardin, Taylor, and
Pate (2017) that examined the transition
experience of female student-athletes
during their nal years of athletic eligi-
bility. This work examines the transition
experience once eligibility has been com-
pleted and the participant has moved to
the next stage of her life.
Semi-structured interviews were used
in order to increase awareness of the
participants’ experiences and inner most
thoughts as they pertain to the transition
process out of collegiate sport (Corbin
& Straus, 2008). This technique allows
for the use of direct quotations from
the study participants in order to achieve
great detail and insight (Kvale, 1996).
Discussion or a free-owing conversa-
tion provides the foundation of inter-
views, and the use of the open-ended
questions provides an opportunity for
the participants to express their feelings
and perceptions of the transition (Kvale,
1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995). Interviews
also allow for follow-up questions, which
serve to further probe participants and
clarify original answers (Kvale, 1996;
Rubin & Rubin, 1995). These semi-struc-
tured interviews were conducted on a
sample of 10 female graduate assistants
working in collegiate athletics that were
former collegiate student-athletes.
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
approval was received to ensure the in-
tegrity of the study. Purposive or specic
criterion sampling was used to identity
participants. The participants were wom-
en who competed in collegiate athletics
and held graduate assistant positions in
collegiate athletics. Graduate assistants
were particularly targeted for this study
since they had recently transitioned out
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 68
of their sport and moved into positions
within collegiate athletics.
The sample was identied through
selecting one NCAA Division I – FBS
conference for convenience and to nar-
row the sample size. The potential par-
ticipants were then identied by examin-
ing the athletic department staff online
directories and identifying female gradu-
ate assistants. The potential participants
were then contacted via e-mail explaining
the purpose of the study and requesting
participation. Thirty people were initial-
ly identied as meeting the criteria for
inclusion and were contacted. Ten people
responded to the invitation to participate,
and all 10 met the criteria for inclusion.
All 10 agreed to participant in the study.
Participation in the study included
completing an informed consent state-
ment, a demographics questionnaire, and
participating in a phone interview. The
interviews ranged from 19 minutes to 56
minutes in length with an average of 32
minutes. The female graduate assistants
represented multiple areas of the athletic
department: coaching, marketing, aca-
demics, and athletic training. All 10 grad-
uate assistant participants were single and
heterosexual. Eight out of the 10 partici-
pants identied as white with two identi-
fying as African-American. All 10 partic-
ipants had been working in their position
for less than two years. Sufcient depth
and saturation was achieved with the 10
respondents, so other participants were
not recruited (Corbin & Strauss, 2008;
Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lindlof & Tay-
lor, 2011). Additional interviews would
add little to the data as common themes
began to emerge from the interviews.
The participants were assigned pseud-
onyms in order to protect condentiality
(see Table 1).
Procedure and Analysis
The interview guide (see Table 2) was
used for consistency in the interviews
and comprised of questions based on
the theoretical framework of athletic
identity (Merriam, 2009). This interview
guide was constructed to reect the issues
highlighted in the literature surrounding
the loss of athletic identity (i.e., sense of
loss, emotional and physical hurdles, and
possible changes socially). Researchers
conducted interviews via telephone and
audio recorded them for transcription.
Saturation, the point in data collection
and analysis where little to no change
was identied in coding, was met with
10 participants (Corbin & Strauss, 2008;
Guest, Bunce, & Johnson, 2006). Inter-
views were transcribed and formatted
for analysis by the principle investigator
and then returned to the participants for
member-checking (Merriam, 2009). Mem-
ber-checking is one step in the data valida-
tion process (Jones & Gratton, 2015), and
allows participants to review their inter-
view transcript to ensure their responses
were accurately transcribed (Andrew,
Pedersen, & McEvoy, 2011).
A constant comparative data analysis
method was used for data coding. During
constant comparative data analysis one
segment of data is compared to another
in order to nd similarities and differenc-
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 69
Table 1
Participant Age Family
Years in
Title Collegiate
Cathy 24 Single > 1 Academic
Donna 26 Single 1 Rowing
Freda 24 Single 1 Coach Rowing
Irene 25 Single > 1 Academic
Jessica 25 Single > 1 Basketball Manager Basketball
Kara 24 Single > 1 Academic
Lauren 22 Single > 1 Coach Basketball
Melissa 28 Single 1.5 Student-
Norma 25 Single 2.5 Research Assistant Basketball
Odessa 24 Single 1 Softball Manager Softball
es (Merriam, 2009). Data are grouped to-
gether based on a similar dimension; these
groups become the themes of the study.
The primary researcher analyzed the
data in two rounds of coding. The rst
round began by reading through all the
transcripts and then coding based on
descriptive codes and Invivo coding.
Descriptive coding was used to break the
transcripts into topics or summarize the
basic topic of the passage or quotation
(Saldaña, 2013). In comparison, Invivo
coding was used to focus on the direct
words used by the participants them-
selves (Saldaña, 2013). These descriptive
codes and Invivo codes were then sep-
arated or grouped together into initial
categories (Boeije, 2010; Charmaz, 2006;
Glaser, 1978; Glaser & Strauss, 1967;
Saldaña, 2013; Strauss, 1987; Strauss &
Corbin, 1998). Next, the primary re-
searcher used axial coding as a second
round of coding to determine which
codes were the dominant and most
important, redundant or repetitive codes
were collapsed together, and further nar-
rowed categories were created (Saldaña,
2013). In this second round of coding
the researcher looked for similarities and
differences of experiences across the cat-
egories. Themes were created from these
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 70
Table 2
Interview Guide
1. Are you a former collegiate student-athlete? If so, what sport and position did you
2. How long did you play this sport in college? Were you a starter? How many years?
3. How long have you been out of your sport?
4. What has been the biggest adjustment from undergraduate to graduate school?
5. What has been the biggest adjustment from being an student-athlete to no longer
being an student-athlete?
6. Can you describe your personal identity and how it was inuenced through your
collegiate sport? Do you feel that identity is still tied to your sport? If so, how? If not,
how come?
7. What has your transition experience out of sport been like for you?
8. If and how has sport changed your nutrition or tness?
9. If and how has sport changed your consumption of alcohol?
10. If and how has leaving sport changed your social life? Do you have more time
now for social activities or hobbies?
11. What advice would you give to current student-student-athletes about transition?
The conceptualization for this re-
search peaked from the interest and
experience of the primary investigator.
The primary investigator played Division
II softball and was as a graduate assis-
tant in college athletics after completing
her bachelor’s degree and transitioning
out of the sport of softball. Thus, a
subjectivity interview with her research
advisor, a pilot on three female gradu-
ate assistants at her current institution
to ensure clarity of questions, ow, and
target any biases or leading questions that
could be found in the interview guide
prior (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Lindlof &
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 71
Taylor, 2011). However, it is also imper-
ative to note that personal experiences as
a former student-athlete and transition
allow for rapport to be established with
the participants and in turn created a rich
discussion environment.
Three themes emerged from the
interviews: (a) Identity Crisis – trouble
identifying as a person without their
sport and depression that accompanied
this crisis (b) Losses and Gains – nding
a new social circle and exploring physical
well-being on their own terms (c) Enjoy
the Experience – advice to future transi-
tioning collegiate student-athletes which
included respect the process, keep your
contacts, and discover another passion.
Identity Crisis
Nearly all of the participants dis-
cussed the transition out of sport led
to a sense of loss or questioning their
purpose. They expressed sadness, de-
pression, and feeling lost without their
sport. Participants specically discussed
how athletics had always been a part of
their lives and they did not feel complete
without that identity. Odessa said,
I’ve been playing sports since I
was 5 so not being able to play
a sport and compete in a game
setting is the hardest. I played
three different sports throughout
all high school, so it was like ‘I was
the athlete.
Kara repeated those thoughts saying,
I think it is harder now just be-
cause you have played a sport
for so long it is hard not to think
about that all the time. I think just
cause it has only been a year out it
is hard and I think because it has
always been a part of my life for
so long it is hard to separate from
Melissa also discussed how to deal
with life without competitive sport and
whether she would feel the same passion
and worth without it. She said,
I went through a very negative
phase for about a year and a half.
And I’m not even afraid to say
that I went through counseling or
anything like that. I needed that
and I needed to talk to somebody
about it all. And that really helped
me because it helped me reframe
who I was – the person rst be-
fore I was even a swimmer. My
personal identity was my battle
within my own brain of how am
I going to live up to that again,
and feel that high again, you know
like how am I going feel that high
again, like that was the best feel-
ing of being on top of the world.
Like how do I feel that way again?
It wasn’t really necessarily what
anyone else would think of me as
much as I was like really hard on
myself. That was a hard phase.
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 72
The participants particularly spoke about
the feelings of depression, emotional
difculty of leaving sport, and the strain
of redening themselves without sport
as the major component. Irene said,
I would watch softball on TV and
feel a little bit nostalgic. I would
think back on the experience I
had and some of the regrets I
had while I was at school. Things
I wish I had done. I am actually
trying to separate myself from it. I
don’t really talk about my softball
experience anymore. I think for
me I was so tied to it for so long I
think I needed to pull away so that
I could kind of develop profes-
sionally and the career I wanted
besides who I was as an athlete.
Freda reiterated these ideas a well. She
The transition was denitely hard.
It wasn’t hard every day but when
a big race would come into town
(I was) not depressed but real-
ly sad that I wasn’t racing there
anymore. I was sad. It was a really
hard transition. When I was still
living in New Jersey after I grad-
uated I was a volunteer coach for
my old coach and I only went a
handful of times because I would
get so sad. I had to say, “coach I
feel like I kind of need some space
because I am not transitioning out
well,” but when I gave it space I
missed it more. It is tough. You
want it all or you want nothing.
Donna also felt the hurt of no longer be-
ing a student-athlete and discussed how
her self-worth was tied to that identity.
She said,
Now I have this gapping void and
I didn’t really have a long-term goal
as far as swimming or athletics or
really the next step in my life. I
didn’t really know what was next
so I took a long time to gure that
out. So those were kind of the two
big things. I didn’t know how to
continue being an student-athlete
even though I wanted to be an
student-athlete and I didn’t really
know how to make a plan for other
life goals. And it was hard to main-
tain a positive self-image once I
stopped competing because I really
didn’t know what my self-image
was anymore.
Losses and Gains
Leaving sport also left the participants
with major uncertainty about their social
circles and physical tness. Many of the
participants discussed how their uncer-
tainty stemmed from their secluded life
and schedule as a student-athlete. Odessa
said, “[Sport], it’s the only experience I’ve
ever had. I don’t get much experience
doing other stuff other than sport. I
didn’t have time.” Jessica expressed how
leaving sport put added pressure to meet
new people that was never felt when she
was on a team. She said,
When you are on a team you au-
tomatically have friends, but when
you are no longer on the team you
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 73
no longer have that so it is dif-
cult to gure out how to connect
with people since you don’t really
have basketball in common any-
more. You have to nd other ways
to connect and talk with people. It
is just an adjustment I didn’t really
think about when I was in college.
Cathy echoed these feelings saying,
I guess it is hard for me to make
friends, when you are part of a
team you pretty much have friends
they are like your family or sis-
ters. I think now, it is like, ‘Oh my
gosh, I have to nd friends now’
and that wasn’t an issue before.
Not only was entering new social
circles accompanied by feelings of un-
certainty, physical tness was also an
issue for some of the participants. Many
of the participants expressed that leav-
ing the routine of maintaining physical
tness while a student-athlete added
unforeseen challenges. The participants
found it difcult to develop personal
goals and time for tness or dening a
purpose to their tness without the same
level or intensity of competition. Norma
Athletically, I think it is a bit of an
adjustment you have to nd ways
to just stay active and you have to
plan gym hours, which I thought I
would never have to do. Am I go-
ing to work out today? When am I
going to work out today?
Kara specically talked about how she
had to change her mind set regarding
setting goals for her physical tness. She
My work ethic or the working
out part has subsided a bit but I
picked up running so I run halves
(marathons) and stuff, but it is
weird when you’re not training
for anything so that is my biggest
part or struggle. That is why I
have signed up for these because
something is an ultimate goal.
Because once you work all day and
have school once you get home
it’s not like you want to go work-
out, and no one is forcing you to
so it’s easy to be like well I will go
tomorrow which I found I have
been doing a lot more.
Melissa also mentioned how establishing
goals assisted with not having the same
competitive outlet that swimming had
provided her. She said,
It was hard not having a compet-
itive outlet or anything like that.
I learned very quickly, about six
months after, that I need to have
goals. So I would enter running
races and things like that to have
a competition to train for because
that was something that I needed.
Irene echoed these feelings of a change
in work ethic with working out and ex-
pressed because it was conditional, man-
datory, and regimented for so long it was
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 74
difcult to shift to making those choices
priority on her own. She said,
But it hasn’t been until the past
year and a half where I realized it’s
not about working out for a sport
and more for my health. That has
been a big transition over the past
year and half. It was because I had
to run, I had to lift, I had no choice
and even when it was a choice it
wasn’t a choice the non-mandato-
ry type things which I’m sure we
all have experienced. So I had the
choice now after I was done so
I chose not to do anything. It is
because it was so regimented ab-
solutely. I have struggled with not
having a designated time and what
I probably need to do is regiment a
time for myself because that’s the
way I got stuff done. Now I pack
clothes. So I packed clothes I have
no excuses.
Although the majority of participants
discussed how leaving sport resulted in
uncertainty, some of the participants
embraced this opportunity to explore op-
tions that were not present during their
athletic careers. Some of the participants
viewed leaving sport as an opportunity
for exploration that was not available
during their undergraduate studies due to
their limited schedule with sport. They
explained that this gave them a new iden-
tity formation in a positive light. This
newfound opportunity allowed these
former collegiate student-athletes time to
explore new hobbies, take control over
their own nutrition and physical tness,
and try new sports. Norma said,
I am kind of enjoying that part of
being able to get out and explore
because during undergrad it was
class and practice and the team
is your life and there is not much
outside of that. But now, denitely
I am enjoying the extracurricu-
lar (activities) and not necessarily
things that are linked to sport or
school in any way shape, form, or
fashion and getting excited to do
those things.
Freda expressed the relief and change
to her life from being able to exercise
and eat based on her own terms, instead
of based on her schedule and demands
of her coach or team. She said,
Now I work out for fun and I eat
really healthy and love it and I am
so much more comfortable with
things and I think my whole life-
style with nutrition and tness has
changed since I left college. I can
just eat what I want and it’s mostly
healthy. (I) exercise on my own
terms. It is more enjoyable now
that it has been.
Lastly, Melissa discussed how leaving
sport provided her opportunities to
explore new sports, and join new social
groups outside of the sport she played in
college. She said,
I love yoga and I love working
out. So I’m a part of two groups.
I have my little yoga group and I
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 75
have my friends that I work out
with. Like that’s social to me, not
being a bar on a Friday night. I
bond in social activities.
Enjoy the Experience
All of the respondents felt a need to
express advice to collegiate student-ath-
letes that would be facing transitioning
out of collegiate sport. They specically
mentioned collegiate student-athletes
transitioning out of sport needed to
respect the process, keep their contacts
from sport, set goals, and discover an-
other passion. For Melissa, she suggested
future collegiate student-athletes should
be willing to accept changes, challenges,
and take initiative early in their career
after sport. She said,
Your rst job is probably not
going to be the thing you fall in
love with for the rest of your life.
I’ve moved seven times. I’ve lived
in six different cities. I’ve had a
bunch of different jobs, a bunch
of different experiences, and that’s
what molds you. Just don’t be
scared to keep continuing to move
forward. Just don’t stop com-
pletely; it doesn’t matter, just keep
moving forward because each
opportunity brings you some-
thing. I think a lot of people just
sit around and wait until they nd
something that is going to match
what they think they should be do-
ing versus just continuing to move
and to keep going forward.
Lauren found that preparation was the
key to her success with transitioning out
of sport and encouraged collegiate stu-
dent-athletes to think and plan ahead for
their next step. She said, “It’s all about
thinking ahead and just preparing your-
self, setting yourself up for success nan-
cially and from an academic standpoint.
Just being ready for a real world and
what it is that you really want to do with
life.” Donna echoed Lauren saying, “I
would probably tell them to look beyond
their sport and really start planning early
and start thinking about things that you
really want to try and do.” Some of the
participants discussed preparing for leav-
ing sport meant staying connected with
former teammates and coaches and using
them as a resource. Kara said, “I feel
like just connecting with everyone once
you graduate is such a huge part, not to
just kind of leave but use them to your
advantage.” Irene emphasized, “Don’t
let go of everything. Keep in touch with
coaches and people at your school be-
cause they are going to be the ones that
help you get a job.
Finally, they discussed respecting the
process and nding a new passion. Jes-
sica said she would tell collegiate stu-
dent-athletes facing transition to “nd
different things that you are interested in
and invest time into that.” Donna ex-
pressed, “I would just say take your time,
experience as much as you can, and think
about your future not just what you want
out of sport but what you want out of
life.” Cathy followed other participants
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 76
stating that respecting the process is im-
portant and discovering your passions,
I think pretty much just respect
the process because it takes a
while for you to transfer out, but I
am pretty sure if you stay ground-
ed in who you are and what you
want and your passions you will be
It is evident that transition out of
sport and developing an identity after
sport are important issues to former
collegiate student-athletes. The responses
from the participants in this study show
an emphasis needs to be placed on edu-
cation and preparation of all student-ath-
letes on their entrance into and exit from
collegiate sport. There is confusion,
uncertainty, and a lack of identity for
those leaving collegiate athletics. Sport
has been the singular focus of the par-
ticipants for most of their lives and then
all of sudden sport is no longer a part of
their life.
The participants in this study dis-
cussed how transitioning out of sport
left them with a feeling of loss, and
specically the participants in this study
mentioned sadness and even self-report-
ed mild depression, which supported the
ndings of Wylleman et al. (2004) and
Lally (2007). Collegiate student-athletes
should be educated early in their ath-
letic careers on what transition is, what
athletic identity is, and how both com-
ponents will affect them when leaving
sport. This education can occur through
role models who were able to succeed
after their collegiate careers. Harrison
and Lawrence (2002; 2003; 2004) found
that positive transition can be aided
when collegiate student-athletes have
positive role models to emulate, especial-
ly for African-American male collegiate
student-athletes in revenue generating
sports such as football and basketball. It
is essential that collegiate student-athletes
understand the full range of the spec-
trum, both positives and negatives, which
they could experience when their com-
petitive athletic experience ends. Colle-
giate student-athletes need to be made
aware that transition will occur, and they
should be making preparations for the
transition through role models, coaches,
and administrators (Bardick et al., 2009;
Harrison & Lawrence, 2002; 2003; 2004).
Many institutions are aware of the all-en-
compassing role athletics play in the lives
of student-athletes with a primary focus
on athletic development and not neces-
sarily holistic (mind, body, and spirit) de-
velopment (Huffman, Waller, & Hardin,
2016; Saxe et al., 2017, Singer, 2005).
There could potentially be chang-
es in their physical and psychological
state with the ending of one chapter
of their life and starting another (Lally,
2007; Lotysz & Short, 2004; Wylleman
et al., 2004). Coaches and administrators
should ensure counselors, psychologists,
sport psychologists, and nutritionists
readily available to transitioning colle-
giate student-athletes for assistance with
both physical and psychological demands
and issues they might encounter and
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 77
insist that collegiate student-athletes are
made aware of these services (Boerner,
2011; Fuller, 2014; Lally, 2007; Leonard
& Schimmel, 2016). It is also essential
that collegiate student-athletes feel pre-
pared for their upcoming transition into
nding employment or an advanced
degree program. Collegiate student-ath-
letes should make time to meet with
advisors, prepare resumes, cover letters,
and experience mock interviews to pre-
pare themselves for the job market once
athletics is complete (Stankovich et al.,
2001). There should also be an emphasis
placed on the development of transfer-
rable skills. Many traits that collegiate
student-athletes learn translate well into
the job market, such as: leadership, work
ethic, self-motivation, and organization
(Bardick et al., 2009). Not only did this
study support the idea that education in
the process of transition, athletic iden-
tity, and academic engagement could
prepare them for life after sports, but it
also found that collegiate student-athletes
need more of an emphasis on emotional
and social growth.
The respondents identied that their
athletic careers limited their ability to
develop emotionally and socially and left
them in a state of uncertainty or sense
of loss when their playing careers ended.
The participants particularly mentioned
how participating in collegiate athletics
did not allow time to develop friendships
or to participate in other activities such
as spring break, study abroad, oppor-
tunities to join professional organiza-
tions, professional work experience, or
mentorship. Students who are able to
experience the norms of college develop
the ability to manage emotions, become
autonomous, establish an identity, and
develop interpersonal relationships (Lally,
2007; Landino, 2013). Collegiate stu-
dent-athletes are also not often given the
opportunity to become independent and
care for their needs, develop an identity
outside of sports or create and manage
relationships outside of a sport context
(Landino, 2013). These ndings support
that collegiate student-athletes are not
given the pertinent skills of emotional
and social growth due to their schedule
and time demands of their sport (Ander-
son, 2012; Shurts & Shoffner, 2004).
An emerging nding from this study
was the issues related to maintaining
tness and proper nutrition. The respon-
dents discussed uncertainty with how to
eat, exercise, and maintain their tness
levels. This uncertainty was related to a
lack of education on how to continue
these practices once they exited their
sport. Research supports that collegiate
student-athletes do not have a high level
of nutritional knowledge and depend on
family, friends, and coaches to supple-
ment this education despite their quali-
cations (Burns, Schiller, & Merrick, 2004;
Froiland, Koszewski, Hingst, & Kopecky,
2004; Jacobson, Sobonya, & Ransome,
2001; Shifett, Timm, & Kahanov, 2002).
The respondents provided insight on the
fear of changing physiques and a desire
to maintain their athletic appearance even
after their athletic careers end. Many
athletes struggle with their self-con-
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 78
dence, changing body compositions and
the ability to regulate nutrition and exer-
cise independently (Collinson & Hockey,
2007; Lavallee & Robinson, 2007). A
solidied tness routine has been shown
to negate the loss of self-condence and
sense of distress that occurs when the
transition from sports occur (Warriner &
Lavallee, 2008). Future research should
further explore the education provided
to collegiate student-athletes during their
careers about exercise and nutrition, and
specically how it relates to transitioning
out of sport and maintaining wellness for
life. Many times, collegiate student-ath-
letes are told what to do and what to eat
but there is little emphasis on the “why”
involved in the tness routine or nutri-
tional plan. This lack of clarity could be
changed simply through coaches or train-
ers explaining the purpose, movement,
short and long-term benet of exercises
and foods and through nutrition and
tness courses, seminars, or talks from
professionals in the eld.
The current ndings demonstrate
that collegiate student-athletes share
similar views about taking advantage
of academic and career resources ear-
ly and often in their collegiate careers
(Anderson, 2012; Pate, Stokowski, &
Hardin, 2011). The participants believed
through developing new passions, pre-
paring ahead of time for their transition,
and exploring opportunities in college,
collegiate student-athletes can develop
coping mechanisms that aid in positive
transition. Their advice revolved around
gaining a well-rounded collegiate expe-
rience through pursuit of activities and
friendships outside of sport. Collegiate
student-athletes that obtain experiences
outside of sport have a higher chance
of positively transitioning out of sport
(Boixados et al., 2004).
The purpose of this study was to
examine the experiences of women who
recently transitioned from the role of
collegiate student-athletes to graduate as-
sistants. Saturation was reached with the
10 respondents, but respondents from a
different conference or working at differ-
ent division levels may have different ex-
periences (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Glass
& Strauss, 1967; Lindlof & Taylor, 2011).
Telephone interviews could be seen or
have been seen as a limitation (Lindloff
& Taylor, 2011). The interviews were
conducted via telephone where a partic-
ipants’ body language, expressions, and
non-verbal cues could not be observed.
The focus on this study was on wom-
en, but future studies should consider
utilizing a sample of both men and wom-
en in order to make comparisons across
genders and or sports. A more exhaustive
quantitative study or a mixed-method
study including survey of both men and
women is also warranted to determine a
broader range of experiences as well as
the presence of athletic identity and pos-
itive or negative perceptions with transi-
tion. A quantitative study could capture
a larger population of participants, and
thus provide more generalizable data and
information for collegiate administrators.
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 79
It would also be benecial to examine
the perceptions of coaches and admin-
istrators to determine their views and
insights on collegiate student-athletes
Future Research
Research should continue to explore
the issue of transition as it relates to col-
legiate student-athletes due to the deeply
rooted and unique factors of intertwin-
ing athletics, academics, and social life
that occur in collegiate sport. Research
should focus on collegiate student-ath-
letes at different points past their athletic
careers to determine how successful the
transition process has been. Follow-up
studies on student-athletes at different
intervals could possibly provide more
details on long term success. Park, La-
vallee, and Tod (2013) found that 126
studies have been completed in the past
decade focused on student-athlete’s
career transitions out of sport. Howev-
er, the focuses of the studies were on
self-identity and social support, not on
what current athletic departments are do-
ing to address the issue. Knights, Sherry
and Ruddock-Hudson (2015) completed
a systematic review of transition out of
sport literature and found that a gap not
only existed on the implementation, but
also a lack of research on the positives
or the idea of ourishing when leaving
sport. Future research should target what
information is being distributed to the
collegiate student-athletes at the local lev-
el (i.e., coaches, administrators, and their
athletic departments) and on the idea of
succeeding professionally when leaving
Transition out of sport is inevitable.
This occurs at the high school level for
most student-athletes as only a small per-
centage of scholastic sport student-ath-
letes are able to compete at the collegiate
level (Estimated Probability of Compet-
ing in College Athletics, 2018). For the
small minority of student-athletes that
compete in collegiate competition, it can
become even more even more challeng-
ing due to their athletic identity being
reinforced (Brewer, Van Raalte, & Linder,
1993; Côté, 1999; Côté et al., 2007; Côté
& Hay, 2002; Kleiber, Mannell, & Walker,
2011). Collegiate student-athletes spend
an inordinate amount of time devoted to
their sport so their athletic identify grows
even stronger, thus making the transition
out of collegiate sport even more dif-
cult (Watson, 2003; Watson & Kissinger,
2007). Collegiate sport is a year-round
commitment as the pressure to suc-
ceed is high. Thus, the idea of being a
student-athlete is reinforced on a daily
basis. The ndings of this study support
the concept of the difculties faced by
collegiate student-athletes transitioning
out of collegiate sport. There was a sense
of loss and confusion by the participants.
There was also a feeling of responsibility
to assist other collegiate student-athletes
as they begin the transition process out
of collegiate athletics. This responsibility
should be a concern for all stakeholders
involved with the collegiate student-ath-
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 80
letes. Coaches, administrators, friends,
and family members should be aware
of the difculties in transition, as well
as preparation to provide emotional and
social support.
Anderson, A. (2012). Helping college
student-student-athletes in and out
of sport. In Brewer, B., & Van Raalte,
J. (Eds.), Exploring sport and exercise
psychology. (2nd ed). Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association.
Andrews, D., Petersen, P., & McEvoy,
C. (2011). Research methods and design
in sport management. Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.
Azócar, F., Pérez, A., Pallarés, S., &
Torregrosa, M. (2013). Foreign foot-
ball players adaptation to Spanish
leagues: Untangling non-normative
transitions. In M. Torregrosa, & A.
Vilanova (Eds.), Transitions and strate-
gies in top level sport. Symposium conducted
at the XVIII ECSS Annual Congress of
European College of Sport Science. Barce-
lona, Spain.
Bardick, A., Bernes, K., Chorney, D.,
Gunn, T., McKnight, K., & Orr, D.
(2009). Life after sport: Athletic ca-
reer transition and transferrable skills.
Journal of Excellence, 13, 63-77.
Bass, J., Hardin, R., & Taylor, E. (2015).
The Glass Closet: Perceptions of ho-
mosexuality in collegiate sport. Journal
of Applied Sport Management, 7(4), 1-36.
Blinde, E. M., & Stratta, T. M. (1993).
The “sport career death” of college
student-athletes: Involuntary and un-
anticipated sport exits. The Journal of
Sport Behavior, 15(3), 3-20.
Boeije, H. (2010). Analysis in qualitative
research. London: Sage.
Boerner, W.A. (2011). Transitional lead-
ership: Perceptions of interim mid-level
student affairs professionals. Disserta-
tion Abstracts International Section
A: Humanities and Social Sciences,
VOl71(11-A), 3938.
Boixandos, R., Cruz, V., Judge, L., & Tor-
regrosa, M. (2004). Elite student-ath-
letes’ image of retirement: The way to
relocation of sport. Psychology of Sport
and Exercise, 5, 35-43.
Brewer, B., Van Raatle, J., & Linder D.
(1993). Athletic identity: Hercules
muscle or Achilles’ heel? International
Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 237-254.
Brown, C. (1993). The relationship be-
tween role commitment and career
development tasks among college stu-
dent-athletes. (Doctoral Dissertation,
University of Missouri, 1993). Disser-
tation Abstracts International, 54, 864.
Burns, R. D., Schiller, M. A., & Merrick,
K. N. (2004). Intercollegiate student
student-athlete use of nutritional
supplements and the role of athletic
trainers and dietitians in nutritional
counseling. Journal of American Dietetic
Association, 104, 246-249.
Burton, L. J. (2015). Underrepresenta-
tion of women in sport leadership: A
review of research. Sport Management
Review, 18(2), 155-165.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded
theory: A practical guide through qualitative
analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 81
Coakley, J. J. (2009). Sport in society: Issues
and controversies (10th ed.). New York,
NY: McGraw-Hill.
Cole, C. R., Salvaterra, G. F., & Davis, J.
E. (2005). Evaluation of dietary prac-
tices of National Collegiate Athletic
Association Division I football play-
ers. Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research, 19, 490-494.
Collinson, J. A., & Hockey, J. (2007).
‘Working out’ identity: Distance
runners and the management of dis-
rupted identity. Leisure Studies, 26(4),
Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of
Qualitative Research: Techniques and Proce-
dures for Developing Grounded Theory (3rd
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Côté, J., Baker, J., & Abernethy, B. (2007).
From play to practice: A developmen-
tal framework for the acquisition of
expertise in team sport. In J. Stark-
es and K.A. Ericsson (Eds.), Expert
performance in sports: Advances in research
on sport expertise, (pp. 89-113). Cham-
paign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Côté, J. (1999). The inuence of the
family in the development of talent
in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13(4),
Côté, J., & Hay, J. (2002). Children’s in-
volvement in sport: A developmental
perspective. In M.J. Silva and D.E.
Stevens (Eds.), Psychological foundations
of sport, (pp. 384-502). Boston, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.
Douglas, K., & Carless, D. (2009). Aban-
doning the performance narrative:
Two women’s stories of transition
from professional sport. Journal of
Applied Psychology, 21, 213-230.
Estimated probability of competing in col-
lege athletics. (2018). Retrieved from
EU Expert Group. (2012). EU Guidelines
on dual careers of athletes. Brussels.
Fernandez, A., Stephan, Y., & Fouqereau,
E. (2006). Assessing reasons for
sports career termination: Devel-
opment of the athletes’ retirement
decision inventory (ARDI). Psychology
of Sport and Exercise, 7, 407-421.
Froiland, K., Koszewski, W., Hingst, J.,
& Kopecky, L. (2004). Nutritional
supplement use among college stu-
dent-athletes and their sources of
information. International Journal of
Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,
14, 104-120.
Fuller, R. D. (2014). Transition experi-
ences out of intercollegiate athletics:
A Meta-Synthesis. Qualitative Report,
19(46), 1-15.
Gilmore, O. (2008). Leaving competitive
sport: Scotish female athletes’ experiences
of sport career transitions. (Unpublished
doctoral dissertation). University of
Stirling, Scotland.
Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity.
Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.
Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967).
The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies
for qualitative research. New York, NY:
Aldine de Gruyter.
Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L.
(2006). How many interviews are
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 82
enough? An experiment with data
saturation and variability. Field methods,
18(1), 59-82.
Harris, H. L., Altekruse, M. K., & En-
gels, D. W. (2003). Helping freshmen
student student-athletes adjust to
college life using psychoeducational
groups. Journal for Specialists in Group
Work, 28, 64-81.
Harrison, C. K., & Lampman, B. (2001).
The image of Paul Robeson: Role
model for the student athlete. Rethink-
ing History, 5, 117-130.
Harrison, C. K., & Lawrence, S. M.
(2002). Policy, patriarchy, and progres-
sive: Mindsets of women in intercol-
legiate sports. Texas Entertainment &
Sports Law Journal, 11(3), 5-13.
Harrison, C. K., & Lawrence, S. M.
(2003). African American student-ath-
letes’ perceptions of career transi-
tion in sport: A qualitative and visual
elicitation. Race Ethnicity and Education,
6, 373-394.
Harrison, C. K., & Lawrence, S. M.
(2004). Female and male student-ath-
letes’ perceptions of career transition
in sport and higher education: A vi-
sual elicitation and qualitative assess-
ment. Journal of Vocational Education &
Training, 56, 485-506.
Huffman, L. T., & Cooper, C. G. (2012).
I’m taking my talents to …: An exam-
ination of hometown socio-economic
status on the college-choice factors
of football student-student-athletes
at a Southeastern university. Journal of
Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 5, 225-
Huffman, L., Waller, S., & Hardin, R.
(2016). The sport chaplain’s role in
the holistic care model for collegiate
athletes in the United States. Practical
Theology, 9(3), 226-241.
Jacobson, B. H., Sobonya, C., & Ran-
some, J. (2001). Nutrition practices
and knowledge of college varsity
student-athletes: A follow up. Journal
of Strength and Conditioning Research, 15,
Jones, I., & Gratton, C. (2015). Research
methods for sports studies. (3rd ed.). New
York, NY: Routledge.
Kadlcik, J., & Flemr, L. (2008). Athlet-
ic career termination model in the
Czech Republic: A qualitative explora-
tion. International Review for the Sociology
of Sport, 43, 251-269.
Kamphoff, C. S. (2010). Bargaining with
patriarchy: women’s coaches’ experi-
ence and their decision to leave col-
legiate coaching. Research Quarterly for
Exercise and Sport, 81(3), 360-372.
Kleiber, D., Mannell, R., & Walker, G.
(2011). A social psychology of leisure.
State College, PA: Venture Publishing,
Kilty, K. (2006). Women in coaching.
Sport Psychologist, 20(2), 222-234.
Knights, S., Sherry, E., & Ruddock-Hud-
son, M. (2015). Investigating elite
end-of-athletic-career transition: A
systematic review. Journal of Applied
Sport Psychology, 28(3), 291-308.
Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: An introduction
to qualitative research interviewing. Thou-
sand Oaks, CA: Sage
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 83
Lally, P. (2007). Identity and athletic re-
tirement: A prospective study. Psychol-
ogy of Sport and Exercise, 8, 85-99.
Landino, R. (2013). Growth and change
through the college years. Retrived from
Lavalle, D., & Robinson, H. K. (2007).
In pursuit of an identity: A qualitative
exploration of retirement from wom-
en’s artistic gymnastics. Psychology of
Sport and Exercise, 8(1), 119-141.
Leonard, J. M., & Schimmel, C. J. (2016).
Theory of work adjustment and stu-
dent-athletes’ transition out of sport.
Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics,
9, 62-85.
Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2011).
Qualitative communication research meth-
ods. Los Angeles: Sage.
Lotysz, G. J., & Short, S. E. (2004). ‘What
ever happened to…’ The effects of
career termination from the Nation-
al Football League. Athletic Insight, 6,
Martinus, J. M. (2007). Psychological effects
of retirement on elite athletes. (Unpub-
lished doctoral dissertation). Stellen-
bosch University, South Africa.
McGillivray, D., Fearn, R., & McIntosch,
A. (2005). Caught up in and by the
beautiful game: A case study of Scot-
tish professional footballers. Journal of
Sport and Social Issues, 29, 102-123.
McKenna, J., & Thomas, H. (2007). En-
during injustice: A case of retirement
from professional rugby union. Sport,
Education, and Society, 12, 19-35.
Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research
a guide to design and implementation. San
Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Muscat, A. C. (2010). Elite athletes’ experi-
ence of identity changes during a career-end-
ing injury: An interpretative description.
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation).
University of British Columbia, Van-
Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (2005). The
indivisible self: An evidenced-based
model of wellness. Journal of Individual
Psychology, 61, 269-279.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
(2014). NCAA student-athlete sub-
stance use study: Executive summary
August 2014. Retrieved from http://
National Collegiate Athletic Associa-
tion (2016a). Results of the Division
I Time Demands Survey. Retrieved
National Collegiate Athletic Associa-
tion (2016b). Estimated probability of
competing in college athletics. Retrieved
National Collegiate Athletic Association
(2016c). Life skills symposium. Re-
trieved from
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 84
National Collegiate Athletic Association
(2018). NCAA innovation in research and
practice grant program. Retrieved from
New, J. (2015). What off-season? Re-
trieved from https://www.inside-
Newell, C. P. Q. (2005). Indentication of
intrinsic, interpersonal, and contextual
factors inuencing disengagement from high
performance sport. (Doctoral disserta-
tion). Retrieved from ProQuest Dis-
sertations and Theses Database.
Pallarés, S., Azócar, F., Torregrosa, M.,
Selva, C. & Ramis, Y. (2011). Athletic
career models in water polo and their
involvement in the transition into an
alternative career. Cultura, Ciencia y
Deporte, 6, 93-103.
Park, S., Lavallee, D., & Tod, D. (2013).
Student-athletes career transition out
of sport: A systematic review. Interna-
tional Review of Sport and Exercise Psy-
chology, 6(1), 22-53.
Pate, J. R., Stokowski, S. E., & Hardin,
R. (2011). Third time’s a charm: The
case of Tennessee’s four junior foot-
ball players who endured three dif-
ferent head coaches in three seasons.
Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics,
4, 354-369.
Rodriguez, N. M., DiMarco, N. M., &
Langley, S. (2009). Position of the
American Dietetic Association, Dieti-
cians of Canada, and the American
College of Sport Medicine: Nutrition
and athletic performance. Journal of
American Dietetic Association, 109, 509-
Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (1995). Qualita-
tive interviewing: The art of hearing data.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for
qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). Los An-
geles, CA: Sage.
Saxe, K., Hardin, R., Taylor, E. A., &
Pate, J. R., (2017). Transition blues:
The experience of female collegiate
student-athletes. Journal of Higher
Education Athletics and Innovation, 1(2),
Schmidt, J., & Seiler, R. (2003) Iden-
tity in high-performance sport:
Psychometric investigations with a
German Language adaptation of
the Athletic Identity Measurement
Scale(AIMS-D). Diagnostica, 49(4),
Schwenk, T. L., Goreno, D. W., Dopp,
R. R., & Hipple, E. (2007). Depres-
sion and pain in retired professional
football players. Medicine and Science in
Sport and Exercise, 39, 599-605.
Shifett, B., Timm, C., & Kahanov,
L. (2002). Understanding of stu-
dent-athletes’ nutritional needs among
student-athletes, coaches, and athletic
trainers. Research Quarterly for Exercise
and Sport, 73, 357-362.
Shurts, W. M., & Shoffner, M. F. (2004).
Providing career counseling for col-
legiate student student-athletes: A
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 85
learning theory approach. Journal of
Career Development, 31(2), 95-109.
Singer, J. N. (2005). Understanding rac-
ism through the eyes of African
American male student-athletes. Race,
Ethnicity and Education, 8(4), 365-386.
Smith, A. B., Taylor, E. A., & Hardin, R.
(2017). Women and mentoring in col-
legiate athletic settings. Mentoring &
Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 25(5),
Stankovich, C. E., Meeker, D. J., & Hen-
derson, J. L. (2001). The positive tran-
sitions model for sport retirement.
Journal of College Counseling, 4, 81-84.
Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for
social scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics in
qualitative research: Techniques and pro-
cedures for developing grounded theory (2nd
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Stronach, M., & Adair, D. (2010). Lords
of the square ring: Future capital and
career transition issues for elite indig-
enous Australian boxers. Cosmopolitan
Civil Societies Journal, 2, 46-70.
Taylor, E. A., & Hardin, R. (2016). Fe-
male NCAA Division I athletic di-
rectors: Experiences and challenges.
Women in Sport & Physical Activity
Journal, 24(1), 14-25.
Taylor, E. A., Ward, R. M., & Hardin,
R. (2017). Examination of drinking
habits and motives among collegiate
student-student-athletes. Journal of
Applied Sport Management, 9(1), 56-82.
Taylor, K. T., & Pompa, J. (1990). An
examination of the relationships
among career decision-making
self-efcacy, career salience, locus of
control, and vocational indecision.
Journal of Vocational Behavior, 37, 17-
Torregrosa, M., Ramis, Y., Pallarés, S.,
Azócar, F., & Selva, C. (2015). Olym-
pic athletes back to retirement: A
qualitative longitudinal study. Psycholo-
gy of Sport and Exercise, 21, 50-56.
USOC. (2012). Athlete career, education, and
life skills working group. (pp. 1-26).
Warriner, K., & Lavallee, D. (2008). The
retirement experiences of elite gym-
nasts: Self identity and the physical
self. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology,
20, 301-317.
Watson, J. C. (2003). The effects of athletic
participation and expectations about coun-
seling on the attitudes toward help seeking
behavior among college students. Unpub-
lished doctoral dissertation. Universi-
ty of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Watson, J. C., & Kissinger, D. B. (2007).
Athletic participation and wellness:
Implications for counseling college
student-student-athletes. Journal of
College Counseling, 10(2), 153-162.
Wippert, P., & Wippert, J. (2008). Per-
ceived stress and prevalence of trau-
matic stress symptoms following
athletic career termination. Journal of
Clinical Sport Psychology, 2, 1-16.
Wylleman, P., Alfermann, D., & Lavallee,
D. (2004). Career transition in sport:
European perspectives. Psychology of
Sport and Exercise, 5, 7-20.
Wylleman, P., Rosier, N., & De Knop, P.
(2015). Transitional challenges and
Journal of Amateur Sport Volume Four, Issue Three Smith and Hardin, 2018 86
elite athletes’ mental health. In J. Bak-
er, P. Safai, & J. Fraser-Thomas (Eds.),
Health and elite sport. Is high performance
sport a healthy pursuit? (pp. 99-116).
Oxon, UK: Routledge.
Young, J. A., Pearce, A. J., Kane, R., &
Pain, M. (2006). Leaving the pro-
fessional tennis circuit: Exploratory
study of experiences and reactions
from elite female athletes. British Jour-
nal of Sport Medicine, 40, 477-483.
... Inevitably, all athletes realize they are no longer able to compete and must adapt to life beyond sport (Blinde & Stratta, 1992;Griffiths et al., 2016). Athletes' transitions out of sport can have both positive and negative impacts on their psychological, social, emotional, and physical well-being Park et al., 2012;Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019;Stoltenburg et al., 2011). However, for many college student-athletes, an intimidating and unnerving transition typically awaits (Stambulova et al., 2009); with one study noting that 57% of former student-athlete participants experienced a negative transition . ...
... Such low levels of career maturity place many college student-athletes in a precarious position when preparing for their dynamic progression into the post-athletic career phases of their life (Moiseichik et al., 2019). Thus, many social and emotional counseling and coping resources are critically important for helping student-athletes manage their wellness following athletic retirement (Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019;Watson & Kissinger, 2007). ...
... 2). Several other scholars have also touched on positive experiences with transitions out of their sport (Dean & Reynolds, 2017;Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019), but primarily have done so in juxtaposition to the challenges and negative experiences of transitions out of sport and into a post-playing career (Knights et al., 2016), rather than a career outside of sports. ...
Full-text available
Research has provided substantial knowledge on career transition difficulties among college student-athletes, yet we know relatively little about how the multiple dimensions of wellness (i.e. emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual) aid in this process. We conducted one-on-one semi-structured interviews with 13 former Division I college student-athletes. Participants reflected on 1) factors that affected their wellness during their transition; 2) available wellness resources they accessed during and after their transition; 3) unhealthy transition-related experiences that hindered their wellness; and 4) health-related adjustments that helped them enhance their wellness. Results revealed the importance of understanding personal athletic identity, identifying interpersonal supports during and after the transition to life after college sports, and taking concrete steps toward pursuing optimal mental and physical health. Knowledge gained from this study can help inform programs seeking to be of benefit to student-athletes during this challenging life transition.
... When referring to athletes transitioning, it has been well documented that often athletes face difficulties adapting to a life beyond sport (e.g., Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski, Paule-Koba, & Kaunert, 2019;Warehime, Dinkel, Bjornsen-Ramig, & Blount, 2017). Sport participation within the collegiate setting is often a full-time job (New, 2015); as such, when athletes discontinue sport participation, there is often an identity crisis (Brewer, Van Raalte & Linder, 1993;Rohrs-Cordes & Paule-Koba, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019). ...
... Psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and stress frequently accompany athletes upon the termination of intercollegiate athletics participation (e.g., Lally, 2007;Stokowski et al., 2019). Consequently, previous research has illustrated that athletes may experience self-defeating behaviors (e.g., disordered eating, loneliness, isolation, mood changes, weight fluctuation) upon discontinuing sport participation (Etzel, 2006;Falls & Wilson, 2013;Fuller, 2014;Griffiths, Barton-Weston, & Walsh, 2016;Leonard & Schimmel, 2016;Papathomas, Petrie, & Plateau, 2018;Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019). ...
... Adapting to a life beyond sport may also be a liberating experience for some athletes . Those who transfer the skills (e.g., collaboration, leadership, time management) they have learned as an athlete into an occupational setting reported a positive transition (e.g., Bardick et al., 2009;Smith & Hardin, 2018;Stokowski et al., 2019). Further, those who were well equipped for the transition and prepared for their collegiate careers to end tend to experience a positive transition into a life beyond sport (e.g., Harrison & Lawrence, 2004;Stokowski et al., 2019). ...
Full-text available
On March 12, 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made the decision to cancel the coveted men's and women's basketball tournaments over growing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Schlossberg's (1981) Model of Analyzing Human Adaptation to Transition, the purpose of this study was to examine how men's and women's Division I basketball athletes in their final year of eligibility internalized the non-normative transition brought on by COVID-19. A content analysis of photos posted on Instagram by Division I basketball athletes on AP top 25 rosters was conducted. The 246 photographs revealed that the majority of basketball athletes posted color images that predominantly featured the sample in athletic uniforms and in groups (e.g., team, coaches) which emphasized a strong athletic identity. Through analysis of the images, it can be inferred that the sample viewed this non-normative transition as a loss.
... Many studies have examined the concept of athletes' transitional experiences [1][2][3]. However, finding proper solutions for athletes themselves and administrators of athletic programs at academic institutions has always been controversial and challenging [1,4]. Studies have found that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletes experience great challenges and stress when faced with transitioning out of sports and moving onto the next stage of their lives [1,[3][4][5][6]. ...
... However, finding proper solutions for athletes themselves and administrators of athletic programs at academic institutions has always been controversial and challenging [1,4]. Studies have found that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletes experience great challenges and stress when faced with transitioning out of sports and moving onto the next stage of their lives [1,[3][4][5][6]. Athletes retire from athletic life for reasons such as aging, deselection from the players' list, sudden injuries and rehabilitation, and other social and financial reasons [7]. ...
... When deciding on retirement, athletes consider various factors such as athletic identity, lifestyle, type of sport, and gender. Having a strong athletic identity has been found to lead to more positive outcomes when athletes face the reality of retirement [8,9]; however, many researchers have argued about the negative repercussions of strong athletic identities [3,4,6,10]. ...
Full-text available
Athletes’ transition has been one of the crucial social issues for athletes, their families, and significant others. This study aimed to provide a thematic analysis of research on athletes’ transition, considering the widely adopted transition theories. That is, this study is designed to evaluate the models that describe athletes’ transition, published in peer-reviewed journals from 2000 to 2020 within the domain of sports and relevant areas. Ten articles were included in this qualitative method-based research, and the selected articles were analyzed using the text data-mining technique using Leximancer version 5.0. The results can provide a methodologically significant contribution to the study of athletes’ transition. In addition, this study provides some insights regarding sustainable careers to help athletes and advance future studies.
... According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2020), collegiate athletes are only allowed to participate in athletic-related activities for 20 hours per week, four hours a day in season, and eight hours per week during off season (NCAA, 2020). However, previous empirical research has indicated that Division I level collegiate athletes spend about 40 hours per week participating in sport-related activities (Smith & Hardin, 2018). Even though collegiate athletes invest tremendous time and effort in athletics, less than two percent of collegiate athletes become professional athletes after college (NCAA, 2018). ...
... from sport. Numerous studies within the literature support that collegiate athletes often have a difficult time transitioning out of sport (Lally, 2007;Smith & Hardin, 2018). Motivation may be one of the solutions to overcome this abstruse moment. ...
In the United States higher education, collegiate athletes mostly have a four-year eligibility within a five-year time frame to compete for and represent their institutions. During this period, collegiate athletes are expected to perform successfully in both academic and athletic roles so that they can maintain benefits, such as scholarships and eligibility. In other words, being a collegiate athlete brings about a multitude of pressures and stressors from handling this dual role, which include but are not limited to, scheduling classes, fatigue, financial pressure, and inflexibility of coaches (Cosh & Tully, 2015). According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2020), collegiate athletes are only allowed to participate in athletic-related activities for 20 hours per week, four hours a day in season, and eight hours per week during off season (NCAA, 2020). However, previous empirical research has indicated that Division I level collegiate athletes spend about 40 hours per week participating in sport-related activities (Smith & Hardin, 2018). Even though collegiate athletes invest tremendous time and effort in athletics, less than two percent of collegiate athletes become professional athletes after college (NCAA, 2018). For collegiate athletes, both athletic and academic performances require tremendous amounts of efforts due to their intense schedule. That is, it is convoluted for collegiate athletes to have identical motivation or reasons for attending college and participating in their sport. While collegiate athletes strive to balance in both academic and athletic responsibilities, they exhibit various types of motivation factors. According to Doupona Topic (2005), female collegiate athletes seem to be more academically motivated and less athletically motivated compared to male collegiate athletes. Also, Beamon and Bell (2006) found that African American collegiate athletes place less emphasis on academics than athletics, and they place less emphasis on education than Caucasian collegiate athletes. For African American collegiate athletes’ academic underperformance and negative psychosocial experiences can happen due to unwelcoming campus climate, inadequate academic support, and an overemphasis on their athletic roles (Beamon, 2008). As mentioned above, only a few collegiate athletes have a chance to move on to professional sport after their collegiate career. That is, majority of collegiate athletes go through a transitioning process moving out from sport. Numerous studies within the literature support that collegiate athletes often have a difficult time transitioning out of sport (Lally, 2007; Smith & Hardin, 2018). Motivation may be one of the solutions to overcome this abstruse moment. To foster effective and successful higher education environments in collegiate athletics, it is essential to understand what motivates collegiate athletes in their dual roles and how collegiate athletes set up create and implement their goals.
... Due to this fear of losing a part of who they are, student-athletes experience great psychological stress tied to their athletic identity and role after an injury (Weinberg et al., 2013). Feelings of separation from a student-athlete's sport and teammates may also precede or happen simultaneously with feelings of identity loss (Smith & Hardin, 2018). The sudden disruption in routine can lead to feelings of loss, and athletes even reported delusions due to the intense focus on athletics in response to no longer being able to participate (Lally, 2007;Lotysz & Short, 2004;Wylleman et al., 2004). ...
Purpose: This study sought to better understand the lived experiences of NCAA student-athletes who suffered an injury during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: The study utilized a descriptive phenomenological approach with focus groups. Researchers interviewed eleven student-athletes that fit the inclusion criteria. Researchers analyzed interview transcriptions for themes. Results: Themes included: (1) emotional stress, (2) impact on interpersonal relationships, and (3) delay in recovery. The research team identified subthemes to further expand the concepts illustrated within the main themes. Conclusions: This research provides insight to the common reactions of a student-athlete post-injury, interpersonal impacts on a student-athlete from both their injury and COVID-19, rehabilitation changes due to COVID-19, and a perspective from injured student-athletes on the current availability and effectiveness of athletic training and wrap-around mental-health resources. Applications in Sport: This information proves valuable for athletic trainers, sport psychologists, sport social workers, and other physical and behavioral health providers working to promote the rehabilitation and well-being of an injured athlete during global pandemics.
... There are unique aspects of the collegiate athletic culture that can increase the risk for mental health concerns. These include the negative impact on self-identity when engrossed in athletics (Taylor, 2014), time demands (Kroshus, 2014), injury (Putukian, 2016), focus on the physical body (McLester et al., 2014), the transition out of athletics (Miller & Buttell, 2018;Smith & Hardin, 2018), over-training syndrome (Matos et al., 2011), and traumatic brain injuries (Kontos et al., 2012). ...
Full-text available
The high rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and other mental health disorders among collegiate student-athletes have resulted in the need for appropriate mental health services. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has released a best practices guide for mental health in college sport that includes licensed psychologists (LP), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), and licensed professional counselors (LPC) as competent to provide mental health services to student-athletes. However, an examination of the differences between these three licenses is absent from the literature. This essay offers an overview on these differences to clarify the purview of each license as there is confusion surrounding the different types of professionals that can provide mental health services. A detailed description of what is means to hold an LP, LCSW, and LPC distinction is provided, followed by a discussion of the difference between mental health licensure and certification as a certified mental performance consultant (CMPC). This will assist administrators, athletic administrators, and student-athletes in making informed decisions about mental health care.
... Barnes (2020) and Chalfin et al. (2015) indicated athletes enter a unique environment, experiencing setbacks, challenges, risk, and resilience in their training and competitions, through sport participation. Participants detailed they understood and frequently used the learned lessons from sport to succeed outside of their role as athletes, reiterating that these skills make them marketable to employers despite their time demands which often do not allow for other professional experiences (Chalfin et al., 2015;Smith & Hardin, 2018). Similar to previous literature, this study points to the idea that HC KSAOs can be learned from sport and extended to a work environment context. ...
Full-text available
The effects of sport participation experiences have broad implications in college sport. The purpose of this research was to study the perceived impact of competitive athletic participation on life after sport. This purpose was pursued through interviews with 215 former U.S. college athletes five to 44 years post-competition with a majority being white male revenue sport athletes. Results revealed six emergent themes with 28 subthemes attributed to sport participation that impact former athletes' personal and professional lives (drive, resilience, emotional intelligence, teamwork, leadership, and confidence). The knowledge, skills, attributes, and other characteristics (KSAOs) athletes described as lessons learned through intercollegiate athletics provide compelling support for competitive sport as a rich complex environment for human capital emergence.
Full-text available
While the barriers and challenges women confront in the sport industry have been well-documented, there is a lack of research on how women who aspire to work in sport perceive those barriers. This study explored how female college athletes perceive the barriers to their future careers in sport as well as how they cope with the barriers through the lens of social cognitive career theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine female college athletes participating in NCAA Division I sports and majoring in sport management. Identified themes included exclusive mentorships within the athletic department, gendered experiences in educational settings, gender stereotypes toward women working in sport, and strong willingness to negotiate the barriers. The findings will advance the theoretical knowledge of career development for women in sport and provide beneficial information that practitioners can utilize to mentor and help female college athletes' effective career development during college years.
There is growing interest in how athletes’ physical activity participation may be impacted when they transition out of competitive sport; however, few studies have examined the process of physical activity transitions in collegiate student-athletes using a qualitative approach. The purpose of our study was to explore student-athletes’ perceptions of, and experiences with, physical activity in the transition out of collegiate sport. Our analysis of transcripts from 13 focus groups conducted with current and former student-athletes ( n = 59) suggests that student-athletes experienced a journey from control to liberation as they transitioned into their postcompetitive lives. In this exciting yet challenging transitional journey, participants were faced with navigating newfound autonomy over their physical activity outside of the controlled environment of collegiate sports and were considering the value and meaning of physical activity within a health promoting context. We offer practical recommendations from these findings to support student-athletes in this transition.
Retirement from sport has been associated with elevated levels of depression, anxiety and/or body dissatisfaction among athletes. Psychosocial dimensions, such as having reached sport goals and planned for life after sport, may affect how retired athletes’ respond psychologically. Thus, the primary aim of this study was to examine the association between psychosocial aspects of sports transition with body satisfaction, depressive symptoms and, life satisfaction among 217 female former NCAA athletes. Through hierarchical regression analyses, and after controlling for BMI and years since retirement, we determined that athletes who believed they had achieved their sport goals, developed a new life focus after their sport career, had focused on life areas other than just sport while competing, and remained involved in their sport in different ways after retirement reported being more highly satisfied with their lives and their bodies and experiencing fewer depressive symptoms; variance accounted for ranged from 24% to 28% across these outcomes. Athletes’ perceptions of what has occurred in their lives while transitioning from sport may have longstanding effects on their psychological well-being in retirement. Longitudinal methodologies are needed to determine the temporal influence of these psychosocial dimensions.
Full-text available
Ten female student-athletes in their third or fourth year of eligibility at an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution participated in an in-depth, semi-structured interview in order to gain a deeper understanding their transitioning experience. A better understanding of those experiences will enable administrators, coaches, support staff, and other stakeholders to make more informed decisions regarding this population to assist them in their transition into collegiate athletics and out of collegiate athletics. The primary themes emerged from the interviews involving transition included their own transition in and out collegiate sport as well as the transition of their coaches and teammates. The findings provide a foundation to increase awareness of the issues female student-athletes face out of the realm of sport and to better assist them in the collegiate experience.
Full-text available
Universities across the United States have reported consistently high rates of alcohol use and abuse among students during the past 20 years. The college student alcohol consumption level is considered an important public health concern. The increase in problematic drinking seems to be campus wide, but there is an understudied at-risk demographic—collegiate student-athletes. The purpose of this study is to examine student-athletes’ motives for alcohol consumption, drinking patterns, and alcohol-related negative consequences. Student-athletes (N = 283) from five Midwestern universities completed an online questionnaire assessing this behavior. Male student-athletes reported higher levels in all three categories than females. In addition, differences were found in the drinking motives of individual and team sport student-athletes. Unlike previous studies, Division I student-athletes did not differ from Division III with respect to these behaviors. Male student-athletes seem particularly at-risk for problematic alcohol consumption. Additionally, differences were found in motives experienced for alcohol consumption based on sport type (i.e., individual versus team). Level of play was not found to influence drinking motives or alcohol consumption which may signify participation in intercollegiate athletics is a greater influence than division. Differences found in gender and sport type may provide insight to help decrease dangerous drinking habits of student-athletes.
Full-text available
The number of women working and participating in intercollegiate athletics has steadily increased the past four decades. This has led for a need to develop women as leaders within collegiate athletics and one way of doing this is through mentoring. Mentoring provides guidance in regard to both the professional development and psychosocial support. In our research, we investigated mentoring within the college athletics environment by interviewing female athletic directors and female graduate assistants. Four themes emerged from the interviews: (a) importance of mentorship; (b) quality of mentorship; (c) availability, and (d) lack of female mentorship. Our research builds on the idea that mentorship is important and valued by both the mentor and protégé but the key is determining how to best connect the two groups. This would possibly lead to higher job satisfaction, higher employee retention, and more productive work environment.
Full-text available
This study examined the experiences and challenges of 10 female Division I athletic directors. Four themes emerged from the interviews: (a) lack of female role models; (b) females are not qualified to manage football programs; (c) scrutiny about (lack of) ability and experience, and (d) benefits of intercollegiate coaching experience. The findings of this study suggest these are the central causes for females’ inability to reach maximum career mobility in the intercollegiate athletics industry. Participants encouraged women trying to enter the intercollegiate athletics industry to find a mentor who can advocate for them as they navigate through their career. In addition, participants encouraged those entering the industry to gain experience in as many facets of the athletic department as possible.
Full-text available
�Undesired career termination represents a critical life event for professional athletes. This study examined traumatic stress resulting from (a) a career-ending event and (b) the athlete’s separation from his or her social support network. Data were collected from 40 professional athletes who were members of the German National Ski Team, using standardized (Impact of Event Scale; Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale) and partially standardized (psychosomatic stress reaction) questionnaires. Correlations between the impact of termination and traumatic stress symptoms were observed over a period of 8 months. Athletes who experienced supportive termination (involving discussion with coaches) endorsed fewer symptoms than those who experienced socially disintegrative termination (lacking support of coaches). Nearly 20% of participants endorsed clinically relevant levels of traumatic stress at 3 and 8 months posttermination.
More than 460,000 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student–athletes compete in twenty-three sports each year. These student–athletes receive a spectrum of services that include academic support to medical care. This paper examines the role and function of sport chaplains who work in a collegiate (colleges and university) athletics in the United States. The role of the collegiate sport chaplain in the provision of holistic care in a collegiate athletics environment is examined. Additionally, a conceptual model of holistic care is presented that includes traditional and emerging parties in the chain of care. More student–athletes are aware of the importance of spirituality in their lives, and the role of the sport chaplain's ministry becomes increasingly important to the individual player and the team. Finally, a practical theology of sport chaplaincy includes the primacy of the ‘shepherding’ function in the holistic care model.