Governing bodies of university sport have adopted more holistic approaches to the development of their athletes (Canadian Interuniversity Sport, 2013; NCAA, 2015). To our knowledge, there has been little empirical effort made to describe and assess positive development in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) context. In this study, we qualitatively examined positive development outcomes associated with athletes’ participation in CIS sport programs. We conducted semi-structured open-ended interviews with 15 student-athletes (5 male, 10 female; Mage = 22, range = 17-26). To analyze the data, we performed a deductive content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) using positive development categories found within the Youth Experience Survey (YES 2.0; Hansen & Larson, 2005). Athletes discussed positive developmental outcomes consistent with all YES categories. Our results suggest university sport programs offer rich opportunities for developing skills, qualities, experiences, and relationships needed to become functioning members in our society.


Positive Development, Emerging Adulthood, Qualitative Research, University Sport, Coaching

Author Bio(s)

Scott Rathwell is an Assistant professor at the University of Lethbridge in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. His research interests revolve around the personal and psychosocial development of university athletes. He also conducts research on the psychosocial factors related to lifelong sport and the mechanisms through which master’s athletes are able to maintain their elite performance. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: scott.rathwell@uleth.ca.

Bradley W. Young, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa. His research considers the psychosocial aspects of commitment to sport across the lifespan and investigates how sport participation relates to issues of aging and the retention of skilled sport performance in master’s athletes. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: brad.young@uottawa.ca.


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through a Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship awarded to the first author (grant ID: 752-2014-1988).

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