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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Kinesiology, Sport and Exercise Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Human Development

First Advisor

Arthur-Cameselle, Jessyca

Second Advisor

Keeler, Linda

Third Advisor

Robey, Hillary


There is some evidence that athletes with high athletic identity experience psychological difficulties with organizing their life following competitive athletic retirement (Erpič et al., 2004). The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the transition experiences of intercollegiate athletes with above average athletic identity and to also compare transition experiences between athletes with high religious faith (HRF) and low religious faith (LRF). Participants included 72 former intercollegiate athletes (69.4% female; Mage = 22.6 years; 84.7% White), who completed online surveys of athletic identity and religious faith, as well as open-ended questions about athletic transition. Inductive thematic analysis led to two higher-order categories for the transition experience (losses; difficulties) and for coping methods utilized during transition (e.g., filling the void; managing mental/emotional challenges). Additionally, five themes conveyed athletes’ purpose of prayer during transition. Loss of Sport was the most commonly reported loss theme during transition for both the HRF and LRF groups. However, the most frequently reported coping method differed between the HRF group (Physical Activity) and the LRF group (Maintaining Sport/Competitor Identity). Two loss themes reported more frequently by HRF participants were Loss of Sport Relationships (HRF = 35%, LRF = 15%) and Loss of Identity (HRF = 24%, LRF = 0%). In conclusion, the findings support previous literature that athletes report several losses and difficulties post-retirement (Alfermann et al., 2004). Results are discussed in terms of recommendations for practitioners and suggestions for future research.




Covid-19, athletic identity, sport transition, college athletes, religion/spirituality, qualitative, identity


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

College athletes--Retirement; College athletes--Religious life; Sports--Religious aspects; Interpersonal relations




masters theses




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