• Exploring the Essence of Student-Athlete Spirituality: a Phenomenological Investigation of NCAA Division I Athletes

      Raikes, Mark H.
      The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the essence of eight NCAA Division I student-athletes‘ experiences related to spirituality while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Discussions of NCAA Division I athletes often reveal ideas and misunderstandings of the student-athlete experience. There exists an increase in contemporary conversations about spirituality in higher education, and with that a need to better understand the student-athlete experience related to this complex construct. This study examined the experiences of student-athletes and how their spirituality, differentiated from religion, influenced how they utilized their athletic abilities. Through semi-structured, face-to-face in-depth interviews which were digitally recorded and analyzed, qualitative data revealed the emergence of four themes: (a) defining spirituality; (b) inseparability of spiritual, student, and athlete; (c) responsibility; and (d) influence on others. The Moustakas (1994) phenomenological research method revealed the essence of the student-athlete spiritual experience. The findings resulted in implications for those who concern themselves with the holistic education and development of college student-athletes, as well as recommendations for future practice and research.