Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transforming Intercollegiate Athletics: An Ethnographic Study on the Impact of the Servant Leader on the Cultivation of Self-Actualization in Division I Student Athletes
by Davis, Ashley M., Ed.D., Concordia University Irvine, 2019, 148; 13807057
Abstract (Summary)

Why are the needs of Division I intercollegiate student athletes important in relation to their overall growth? Answering this question requires a consideration of the way in which student athlete needs continuously evolve and how the quality of leadership from the head coach plays a significant role in orchestrating a team environment that ensures needs are adequately met. The researcher was inspired to study servant leadership and its impact on student athlete personal development and fulfillment to address how Division I head coaches can skillfully serve the needs of their players, enabling them to grow towards self-actualization. Twenty Division I women's soccer student athletes and their head coach were interviewed and observed for four weeks during the fall 2018 season. To corroborate the qualitative data, a survey gauging the degree to which student athletes felt their head coach espoused servant leader behavior, was also deployed to all student athletes within this particular Division I athletic department.

Findings indicate that it is the head coach who creates an environment fostering peak experiences for the student athlete, allowing them to further identify their needs in and out of the practice setting. Findings also indicate the student athlete prefers a head coach that truly cares for them beyond their athletic identity, serving their needs as a person and not just a student athlete. Ultimately, servant leadership in Division I athletics is demonstrated through an intricate process of head coach balance between harder and softer approaches, identity symmetry, and the accommodation of student athlete needs, impacting the student athlete’s overall university experience and their journey to personal fulfillment. Findings are presented as a cultural portrait, incorporating views of the participants and observational impressions from the researcher. This research validates demonstrates the importance of the head coach-student athlete relationship and its influence on the student athlete’s self-concept through the espousal of servant leader behavior.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Karge, Belinda Dunnick
Commitee: Schlichtemeier, Kent, Vieselmeyer, Dean
School: Concordia University Irvine
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sports Management, Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Balance, Coaching, Fulfillment, Identity, Leadership, Student athlete
Publication Number: 13807057
ISBN: 978-0-438-96948-3
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