Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Rebecca A. Zakrajsek

Committee Members

Lars Dzikus, Leslee A. Fisher, Virginia W. Kupritz


Resilience in sport has been defined as “the role of mental processes and behavior in promoting personal assets and protecting an individual from the potential negative effect of stressors” (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2012, p. 675). Fletcher and Sarkar’s (2012) found that various psychological factors were indicative of athlete resilience such as achievement motivation, social support, focus, confidence, and positive personality. To date, sport psychology researchers have dominantly examined resilience as an individual construct (e.g., Galli & Vealey, 2008; Fletcher & Sarkar; Wagstaff, Sarkar, Davidson, & Fletcher, 2016). However, it is also important to consider how athlete resilience might develop and operate in relationships with important others (e.g., coach). Narrative inquiry (Smith & Sparkes, 2009) was used in this study to explore the stories of seven NCAA Division I student-athletes’ lived experiences of how the coach-athlete relationship influenced their ability to be resilient through major stress. Semi-structured interviews were conducted that asked participants about their respective coach-athlete relationship, how power and sociocultural factors influenced this relationship, and in turn, influenced student-athlete resilience. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis was used for data analysis, which revealed the following themes: (a) Student-athlete core resilience, (b) The W.O.A.T., (c) The G.O.A.T., (d) W.O.AT. coach behaviors, (e) G.O.A.T. coach behaviors, (f) The W.O.A.T., the G.O.A.T., and student-athlete resilience, (g) The effect of coach major stress on student-athlete resilience, and (h) The relational shift: From bad to better, good to great. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be used as a powerful method from which coaches can emotionally connect with the participants’ stories in order to better understand how they might operate within the coach-athlete relationship to influence student-athlete resilience.

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