Elon alumnae Alexis de Groot ’17 and Sydney Brown ’18 partnered with faculty members Tony Weaver and Eric Hall to conduct a qualitative study and collect in-depth information on the perception of social support provided to student-athletes rehabilitating injuries.
Former Elon University student-athlete Alexis de Groot ’17 and Tony Weaver, chair of the Sport Management Department, collaborated with Eric Hall, associate professor of exercise science, and Sydney Brown ’18 to publish research examining injured student-athletes’ perceptions of social support and how additional resources during their recoveries impacted their overall well-being.
The quartet’s findings, titled “Social Support Provided to Injured Student-Athletes,” were published in the June issue of the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics.
The study included 31 current or former student-athletes — from a variety of sports across Division I, Division II and Division III — who sustained serious injuries during their playing careers. Injury types varied greatly among the participants, including torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), concussions, broken bones and herniated disks.
The abstract reads: “Although student-athletes receive the necessary care to help rehabilitate the physical injury, many studies have found the importance of social support to the student-athlete’s overall well-being following an injury. The purpose of this study is to better understand injured student-athletes’ perceptions of social support and whether additional resources during their recovery process would enhance their overall well-being.”
Through a “semi-structured” interview style with the student-athletes, the co-authors observed that the injured were forced into a new role on their respective teams, which made it an emotionally difficult recovery process. According to the co-authors’ research, findings indicated that the new roles included taking on tasks often assigned to younger teammates, managers, coaches, volunteers or interns. Additionally, their social support diminished over time.
Research also indicated that the injured felt their teams, including coaches, trainers and administrators, should be more aware of their need for care and long-term support. It resulted in specific recommendations from the participant athletes on how sports team staff should move forward in supporting those long-term, severely injured students, some including visits with sport psychologists, open dialogue, and educational programs for coaches and trainers.
Following her 2017 graduation, de Groot, a former Elon women’s soccer player, earned a master’s degree in sport management from Columbia University and now serves as a project coordinator at LeadDog Marketing Group in New York. Brown, an exercise science major, graduated from Elon in spring 2018. Brown’s own research on the effectiveness of applying grief-response models to student-athletes who are injured was highlighted during last spring’s CELEBRATE! Week.
The Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics is a peer-reviewed, scholarly, open-access journal dedicated to encouraging, supporting and disseminating interdisciplinary and interuniversity collaborative college-sport research.