Date of Award



© 2020 Kristin M. Cannon

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Laura Bertonazzi

Second Advisor

Leslie Hitch

Third Advisor

Nathaniel Lie


In this qualitative, interpretive phenomenological analysis, the researcher explored the role of sport identity among a select sample of female NCAA Division I assistant women’s soccer coaches. Understanding the female assistant coaches’ experiences provided a richer exploration of the role of sport identity, which can guide other and emerging female assistant coaches as they persist in the profession. Since the introduction of Title IX in 1972, the number of opportunities to coach women’s sports has increased. There is more sport sponsorship and participation for women in NCAA Division I sports than ever before, which has created more coaching positions. However, there are fewer female coaches in college athletics than male. As of fall 2019, 18% of head coaches and 45% of assistant coaches in Division I women’s soccer were women. This study focused on sport identity, a subset of social identity theory. It explored the role of sport identity and its impact on female assistant coaches and their persistence in coaching in NCAA Division I women’s soccer. A thorough review of literature found sparse research related to the connection of sport identity and coaching. This study explored the lived experience of female assistant coaches with the intent of understanding their sport identity in the context of coaching persistence. The study was guided by the research question of how a select sample of female NCAA Division I assistant women’s soccer coaches described the influence of sport identity on their coaching careers. The researcher used semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with seven full-time female assistant coaches in NCAA Division I women’s soccer. There are several significant findings that suggest that sport identity is connected to career persistence. A compelling finding is that participants persist in coaching to maintain their sport identity. Recommendations for future research include exploring the role identity of female student-athletes and their career choices.


Ed.D. Dissertation