Publication Date

Summer 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Tamar Semerjian


Bereavement, Coach, Coping, Death, Grief, Memorials

Subject Areas

Kinesiology; Psychology


The consequences of coping with death as an athlete have been documented in the literature by a variety of studies. However, these studies have remained largely focused on coping with the death of a teammate. This study examined the inter- and intrapersonal impact of experiencing the death of a head coach. Experiencing the death of a head coach during the season may have profound and varied psychosocial consequences for all members of a team. A collegiate team was identified as having experienced the death of its head coach during his tenure and from that team five participants (four players and one assistant coach) shared their stories during semi-structured interviews which were thematically analyzed. Major emergent themes from the interviews suggested that: members of the team experience bereavement differently which may have interpersonal consequences during a shared tragedy; memorials and tributes play a significant role in the process of individual and collective bereavement; and members of the team will make an effort to continue the presence of the deceased individual as well as perpetuate their memory in various ways. These results add breadth to the slowly growing literature that documents the effect that a death has on athletes. These findings and the findings of other similar studies have significant implications for informing the holistic design of service provision of athletes by applied sport psychology or mental health professionals.