International Hispanic Intercollegiate Student-Athletes in NCAA Division I: A Qualitative Exploration of Culture in the Student-Athlete Experience

Allison K. Manwell – Ball State University
James E. Johnson – Ball State University
Khirey B. Walker – Ball State University

Participation of both Hispanic and international student-athletes at the intercollegiate level has more than doubled in the past decade. Despite this growth, little is known about the Hispanic International Student-Athlete (ISA) experience. Using Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a framework, the purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of Hispanic ISAs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Hispanic ISAs on varsity sport teams at NCAA Division I universities in the Midwestern U.S. Language was the predominant theme that made the collective experience most difficult. While a supportive social network served as exchangeable cultural capital useful for navigating a new environment, imbalance still existed in participants’ lives due to discontinuity between the demands of being an intercollegiate student-athlete and ingrained cultural identities. The study offers practical recommendations for stakeholders, including administrators, coaches, and support personnel, who work with Hispanic ISAs.