Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink


This research is an exploratory study of the impact of leadership training on the student-athletes at an NCAA Division III member institution. Leadership education and training for athletics has seen a lack of research that could give insight into identifying attributes and actions that are associated with high-quality leadership training experiences. The purpose of this study is to identify the: (a) quality and outcomes of the Gainey Leadership Retreat training program, and (b) the attributes and impact of the Gainey program using the lens of Eich's (2008) wounded theory of high-quality student leadership programs.

The study participants are 60 female student-athletes and 50 male student-athletes who attended the Gainey Leadership Retreat between 2004 and 2009. This study uses Eich's (2008) wounded theory as a framework for creating Likert-scale questions and open-ended questions in an online survey that ascertain the quality of the retreat experience as well as the willingness/confidence to lead and the overall impression of the retreat as a leadership training tool. Descriptive statistics, t-tests, ANOVAs, and multiple regression are used to analyze the data collected.

Analysis of the data indicates that: (a) Gainey Retreat participants reported a high degree of satisfaction with the learning community, experiential learning, and program development components of the retreat, (b) Gainey Retreat participants experienced an immediate impact on confidence to lead and leadership actions in the team setting, (c) Gainey Retreat participants reported a lasting impression on their willingness and confidence to lead, and (d) Gainey Retreat participants reported a highly favorable overall impression of the retreat as it related to value of the athletic experience at Calvin and the building of a strong foundation for future leadership. /// Overall, this study supports previous research that team building interventions are tempered by resources, time, cost, and magnitude of change; that degree of long-term impact varies based on the characteristics of team leader, the setting of the intervention, and the intervention's theoretical basis; and, that leadership interventions have an equal impact across gender. The findings from this study further add to the literature by providing support that leadership training in athletics has a positive impact on future leadership willingness and confidence.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access