Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sherryl Houdek


The researcher’s purpose for this study was to review and analyze student-athlete perceptions of their high school athletic experience based on one school district’s collected data. This research provides athletic directors knowledge and direction to better define the philosophy, goals, and organizational structure of their athletic departments. Using quantitative and qualitative data, the researcher examined secondary data collected to identify reasons student-athletes participate in athletics as well as understand why some student-athletes may not continue their participation in high school athletics. The researcher also explored the contrasting goals of privately run sports clubs and high school sponsored athletic programs and the benefits and detriments of sports specialization and the increased cultural focus on year-round sports participation.

All of the secondary data was collected through surveys distributed to student-athletes in Grand Forks Public Schools athletic programs from the fall seasons of 2012 through the spring seasons of 2019. Student-athletes’ survey responses indicating their reasons for participation were analyzed by coding and categorizing to determine frequency patterns. Additionally, the researcher used a regression analysis to compare answers to four survey questions related to the relationship between a student-athlete and a coach and the athlete’s indication of intended participation the following season.

Results indicated that the relationship between a student-athlete and a coach may not be a main reason for the student’s initial participation but does significantly contribute to the student-athlete’s decision to continue participation. The researcher also outlines several opportunities for further research to explore athlete’s motivation to participate at all age levels.