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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Health and Human Development

First Advisor

Vernacchia, Ralph A., 1945-

Second Advisor

Martin, LeaAnn

Third Advisor

Mears, Derrick, 1966-


The purpose of this study was to investigate the leadership characteristics of successful NCAA Division I track and field head coaches through specific elements of leadership and coaching. The elements include integrity, communication, understanding of human behavior, knowledge of sport, commitment, styles, team building, team cohesion, and gender differences and the role they play in contributing to the development of a student-athlete's athletic and academic performance. This study utilized an inductive content analysis of coach case interviews. The in-depth interviews of 10 successful NCAA Division I track and field head coaches consisted of probing questions regarding the coaches' perception, insights, and thoughts of leadership as a coach and its connection with the development of successful student-athletes from an academic and athletic perspective. The content analysis identified 1353 raw data descriptors and 556 raw data responses, from which arose the following four emergent themes: coaching development, coaching considerations, components of successful leadership, and characteristics of successful leaders. Athlete centered leadership was the most commonly cited sub-theme of components of successful leadership style. This sub-theme was mentioned in nine of the questions and was most commonly cited in the question referring to establishing relationships and providing support for the athletes. Integrity and effective communication were the two most often cited themes that emerged as characteristics of successful leaders. Passion for sport and for helping others was another characteristic of successful leaders that emerged. The need to be adaptable as a leader emerged as a characteristic of successful leaders. In the sport of track and field where the makeup of the team consists of multiple different people and personalities among the various event groups and even within those specific events groups.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Track and field coaches--United States; Track and field coaches--Rating of--United States; Leadership--Psychological aspects




masters theses




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