Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


The purpose of this study was to understand how student-athletes explored and made meaning of their intersecting identities through identity-focused curriculum against the backdrop of 2020. With intersectionality as a theoretical framework, this study examines how axes of oppression influenced the process of identity exploration for student-athletes. Guided by constructivism and critical theory as its epistemological foundations, this constructivist grounded theory study included three guiding research questions alluding to the how, what and why student-athletes explored their identities in 2020. The outcome of this study was an intersectional grounded theory detailing how student-athletes explore and make meaning of their intersecting identities and environments. The theory centers a process of learning and unlearning: learning new ways to understand identities while unlearning oppressive discourses that may have previously been internalized. Salient experiences in 2020 - losing sport, social unrest/the athlete voice, mental/ physical health - set the backdrop to the process of exploration.


Identity, student-athlete, intersectionality, critical theory, grounded theory

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Todd Seidler

Second Committee Member

Dr. Allison Smith

Third Committee Member

Dr. Reilly White

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. John Barnes