In NCAA Division I women’s basketball, Black female coaches make up only a small percentage of the total number of coaches (i.e., 26%; NCAA, 2016) even though the majority of student-athletes are Black (i.e., 51%). Although these discrepancies have recently been recognized in sport studies literature (Borland & Bruening, 2010; LaVoi & Dutove, 2012), sport psychology researchers have yet to explore the underlying structural and psychological issues that lead to the underrepresentation of Black female coaches in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. To this end, we utilized narrative inquiry (Smith & Sparkes, 2009a) in the current study to explore the stories of eight NCAA Division I women’s basketball assistant coaches who identify as Black females. During face-to-face interviews, participants described the roles they are asked to fill and the ways they cope with the multiple oppressions they experience as Black women in coaching. The first and second authors co-constructed four themes, (a) Pregame: Learning to coach; (b) First half: Experiences from the first 10 years; (c) Second half: Experiences from the last five years; and (d) Overtime: Thinking about the future, throughout their thematic analysis of these narratives (Braun & Clark, 2006). It is hoped that these findings will lead to the development of interventions that can empower NCAA Division I Black female coaches as well as challenge current structural ideologies that disadvantage Black female coaches in this context. Further, creating a more inclusive environment at NCAA Division I institutions could enhance the experiences and coaching career aspirations of Black female student-athletes by allowing them to see empowered Black female role models in coaching positions. Implications for certified mental performance consultants (CMPCs) working within NCAA Division I women’s basketball, who are well positioned to contribute to these efforts, are also discussed.


African American, Collegiate, Women, Narrative Inquiry, Epistolary, Representation, Gendered Racism

Author Bio(s)

Leslie K. Larsen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at California State University, Sacramento. She holds a PhD in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology from the University of Tennessee. Her research interests include cultural sport psychology and coach education. Leslie is a former Mental Conditioning Coach at IMG Academy and a former NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach. She is also a Certified Mental Performance Consultant, and an active member of the AASP Diversity Committee. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: leslie.larsen@csus.edu.

Leslee A. Fisher is a Professor and Program Coordinator of Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior at the University of Tennessee. She holds a PhD in Sport Psychology (UC Berkeley) and an MEd in Counselor Education (University of Virginia). Leslee has published over 73 academic and applied articles and has presented at numerous national and international conferences. Her research focuses on feminist cultural sport psychology and can be found in The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, The Sport Psychologist, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, International Journal of Sport Psychology, and Women in Sport & Physical Activity. Leslee is also a Fellow in the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), served as AASP’s Secretary/Treasurer, is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant, a member of the American Psychological Association, and a Registrant on the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: lfisher2@utk.edu.

Lauren Moret is an Assistant Professor in the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement Program with a focus on Qualitative Research Methodology. Lauren is a trained conflict mediator with current research interests that include the teaching and learning practices of leaders across diversities, oppression awareness and reduction processes used in organizations, and supports for the growth of author reflexivity and transparency of the qualitative research process. She loves to cook, eat foods from many cultures, and spend time outside. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: lmoret@utk.edu.


1. The research was funded by an NCAA Graduate Student Research Grant. 2. The authors would like to thank the assistant coaches who participated in this study.

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