Understanding the Academic Experiences of Freshman Football Athletes: Insight for Sport Psychology Professionals (pp. 115-128)
Authors: Samantha J. Monda, Edward F. Etzel, Vanessa Shannon, and Chelsea Butters Woodin
Abstract: Supporting the academic success of college athletes is often a focus for practitioners working in intercollegiate athletics. Freshmen football players have identified as an at-risk subgroup in their likelihood to experience academic difficulty. The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of processes underlying academic success and failure by exploring the first-semester experiences of two groups of freshman Division I football players: one group who were academically successful (n = 6) and another who were not academically successful (n = 6). Emergent themes relating to their experiences were academic preparation, motivation, and engagement. Findings indicate that both groups struggled with managing dual roles. However, those who understood the expectations, had clear academic goals, and strong support were more likely to stay motivated and engage in academic activity. These findings offer insight into how sport psychology professionals can promote player development and enhance their first semester experiences by bridging the gap between academics and athletics.