The Holistic Wellness of the Female Collegiate Athlete at a Division I Power 5 Institution

Bethany Neeley – NC State University
Kyle S. Bunds – NC State University
Jason N. Bocarro – NC State University
Kimberly Bush – NC State University
J. Aaron Hipp – NC State University

This study examined the interconnectedness among dimensions of wellness to understand the lived experience of female collegiate athletes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with upperclassmen female college athletes (n=20) to explore their perceptions about the college athlete experience impacting their holistic well-being and their utilization of supportive resources within the institution’s athletic department. Using the Indivisible Self Model of Wellness as a framework, the overarching themes were all factors that negatively affected their well-being, including pressure to perform, coach-athlete verbal communication issues, and freshman year blues. When participants experienced these challenges, the resources they found most supportive included athletic trainers and sports psychologists, both of whom helped them cope with the demands of the college athlete lifestyle. These findings have important implications for practitioners working with female collegiate athletes, in addition to designing future interventions to better meet the wellness needs of female collegiate athletes, thus enhancing the overall college athlete experience.