Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Edward Skarnulis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Annette Gerten, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John Shaffer, MSW, MPH


This study investigated the self-esteem, feelings, and experiences of five exceptional skill level and five average skill level female adolescent athletes. Although mainly a qualitative study, with emphasis given to in-depth interviews, this research design also used a quantitative instrument in order to record the self-esteem of each subject. Both methods were used to generate themes and analyze concepts relating to the self-esteem and experience of female adolescent athletes. The quantitative instrument revealed that all athletes had self-esteem scores in the average to very high categories. Exceptional skill athletes did have higher mean scores than the regular skill athletes and their self-reporting was consistent with those findings.

Low participation in risk-taking behaviors, challenging academics, support of family and friends, recognition, and positive relationships with coaches emerged as the central themes for all athletes. More athletic opportunities, increased stress and higher personal standards were additional topics reported by exceptional athletes. All athletes agreed that improvements could be made to female adolescent athletics through improved promotion and advocacy for girl's sports, improved coaching, and better recruitment to increase the number of athletes.


SC 11.MSW.1999.Wagner.DS

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Social Work Commons