Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Leslee A. Fisher

Committee Members

Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Dawn M. Szymanski, Lauren Moret

Abstract

In NCAA Division I women’s basketball, the majority of student-athletes are Black (i.e.. 51%); however, Black women make up only a small percentage of the total number of coaches at this level (i.e., 25%; NCAA, 2015). Although these discrepancies have recently been recognized in sport studies literature (Borland & Bruening, 2010; LaVoi & Dutove, 2012), sport psychology researchers have yet to explore the underlying structural and psychological issues that lead to the underrepresentation of Black female coaches in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. To this end, narrative inquiry (Smith & Sparkes, 2009) was utilized in the current study to explore the stories of eight NCAA Division I women’s basketball assistant coaches who identify as Black women. During face-to-face interviews, participants described the roles they are asked to fill and the ways they cope with the multiple oppressions they experience as Black women in coaching. Themes that arose throughout a thematic analysis of these narratives (Braun & Clark, 2006) include: (a) Pregame: Learning to coach (b) First half: Experiences from the first 10 years; (c) Second half: Experiences from the last five years; and (d) Overtime: Thinking about the future. It is hoped that these findings will lead to the development of interventions that can empower NCAA Division I Black female coaches as well as challenge current structural ideologies that disadvantage Black female coaches in this context. Further, creating a more inclusive environment at NCAA Division I institutions could enhance the experiences and coaching career aspirations of Black female student-athletes by allowing them to see empowered Black female role models in coaching. Implications for sport psychology consultants working within NCAA Division I women’s basketball, who are well positioned to contribute to these efforts, are also discussed.

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