Female Student-Athletes’ Transition out of Collegiate Competition

  • Allison B. Smith Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Robin Hardin University of Tennessee
Keywords: Women, College Sport, Transition, Athletic Identity



Research in the area of athletic identity has grown immensely since it was first brought forward in academic work nearly 20 years ago. The ideas of athletic identity have expanded into the areas of relating to injury and rehabilitation, transitioning into collegiate athletics, transitioning out of collegiate athletics, professional careers in sport, and even identity formation through sport. This research explored the experiences of 10 women who had completed their collegiate eligibility and had transitioned out of collegiate competition. Three themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: (a) Sense of Loss, (b) Bewilderment, and (c) Enjoy the Experience. All the respondents agreed that transition was inevitable, but there were mixed results on whether the transition out of sport was positive or negative. The findings also revealed the struggle of creating an identity outside of sport. The participants indicated establishing new social circles, new routines with fitness, and separating from their sport were challenging. The respondents also believed it was their responsibility to offer advice to future transitioning student-athletes so they could be better prepared for their upcoming and inevitable transition out of sport. 

Author Biographies

Allison B. Smith, Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Allison B. Smith is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Robin Hardin, University of Tennessee
Dr. Robin Hardin is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, & Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee.


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