Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean Rhodes

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Raposa

Third Advisor

Alice S. Carter


Participation in organized sports is one of the most common extracurricular activities among youth in the United States. Athletic coaches can become important mentors to their players, serving multiple functions and encouraging youth to succeed athletically and academically. Nonetheless, few studies have delved into the nature of the coach-athlete relationship, the characteristics of youth who regard their coaches as mentors, and whether such relationships influence youth academic outcomes. This study drew on data from 7,193 youth who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), which includes a nationally representative sample of adolescents and young adults across four waves of data collected over 14 years from 1994 to 2009. Having a coach mentor (compared to no mentor) was associated with high school completion (OR = 10.43; 95% CI = [1.42, 76.66], p = .02), post-high school vocational/educational enrollment (OR = 2.79; 95% CI = [1.51, 5.15], p < .01), and college completion (OR = 2.73; 95% CI = [1.63, 4.58], p < .01), even when controlling for sports participation and baseline academic functioning. Having a coach mentor remained a significant predictor of college completion (OR = 1.99; 95% CI = [1.24, 3.17], p = .004), and approached significance for high school completion when compared to youth with other types of mentors. There were no significant differences between coach and teacher mentors’ ability to predict later academic success. Receiving guidance and advice from a coach mentor predicted high school completion (OR = .02; 95% CI = [.00, .73], p = .033), while receiving help in the domain of self and life development predicted both high school completion (OR = .04; 95% CI = [.00, .86], p = .042) and college completion (OR = 2.39; 95% CI = [1.02, 5.59], p = .045). Finally, males and youth with higher socioeconomic status were significantly more likely to have coach mentors. The findings highlight the formative role that coach mentors can have on adolescents’ academic success and suggest that differential access to this resource may have long-term consequences for our nation’s youth. Implications for practice, policy, and future research are discussed.


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