Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Daniel Czech

Committee Member 1

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 2

Trey Burdette


Researchers have suggested that the way an athlete copes with the end of his or her career can be one of the most influential factors in how an athlete transitions out of their respective sport (Gardner & Moore, 2006). Moreover, an athlete is more likely to have sport transitioning issues if he or she sustains a career ending injury (Heil, 1993). Although this is the case, questions arise examining the coping styles and life impact career ending injuries may have on athletes who play at different levels. Sturm et al., (2011) suggested that the athletic identities of NCAA Division I athletes are similar to those of NCAA Division III athletes. Thus, the purpose of this study is to qualitatively examine and compare the coping strategies and injury impact of NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III athletes who have sustained a career ending injury. Data was transcribed and analyzed; emerging themes were identified as a) emotional response to injury, b) redefining identity, c) adopting a coping strategy, and d) feelings of unpreparedness to cope with transition. NCAA Division I athletes experienced more negative emotions than NCAA Division III athletes. All NCAA athletes adopted coping strategies to cope with the transition out of sport. The majority of the athletes felt unprepared to cope with this transition.