Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David Himmelgreen

Co-Major Professor

Rita Debate


Coaches, Girlhood, Mentor-ism, Self Determination Theory, Volunteerism


The purpose of this study is to explore the coaches' perceptions, motives and constructed identities by participating in a regional physical activity-based positive youth development program. There is growing evidence that suggests the success of positive youth development (PYD) programs depend on the environment that is created by caring adult mentors. These coaches are the delivery vehicles for these programs and play an essential role in the development of participating youth. As a result, the characteristics these coaches possess are critical to the success of the PYD implementation. Based on the application of anthropological methods and theory, this study seeks to create a profile of the coaches and propose strategies for recruitment and retention for a regional council of Girls on the Run. The main findings from this study indicate that the coaches' network is strong within this community and contributes the success of the program and its sustainability. These women are driven by altruistic factors to become involved in this program and most were previous volunteers in some capacity (n=12). However, there seems to be an even distribution along the self-determination continuum that motivates them to participate. Intrinsic motivation (n=5), intrinsic motivation driven by external factors (n=5), and extrinsic motivation (n=3). Additionally, these findings can be translated into recommendations for other councils.