Bethany Neeley, a second-year graduate student who competed in cross country and track and field at NC State, has recently been awarded the NCAA Research Committee Scholar Award. Neeley, a native of Greentown, IN, completed her eligibility last spring and is currently an office assistant for the cross country and track and field teams.
Her research focuses on the perceptions of the female student-athlete experience and holistic wellness at a Division I Power Five university. She will be conducting semi-structured interviews to “gain a deeper understanding into the lives of upperclassman female student-athletes and how the student-athlete experience impacts a female student-athlete’s overall holistic wellness.” Neeley hopes to answer questions such as: What are the challenges female student-athletes experience? Where are opportunities for female student-athletes to thrive in specific areas of wellness?
Data collection has not yet begun, but she hopes her findings will contribute to the current gaps in the literature and provide practical suggestions in meeting the identified wellness needs of female student-athletes and ultimately enhance the overall student-athlete experience. When asked what inspired her to research this topic, she commented “as a former intercollegiate athlete for five years, I first-hand experienced the highs and lows of my sport. Within a span of 16 months, I transferred universities, moved away from my twin sister, was injured for the first time in my life, and lost both of my legal guardians unexpectedly. Life happened so fast and I really struggled with my mental health.”
She didn’t let her adversities stop her from persevering: “Through all of this, I grew so much as a person and quickly realized that so many other student-athletes felt the same way as I did at certain times throughout their career. I want to have real, vulnerable conversations with female student-athletes and research the hard topics that are often tough to talk about. As I transition into the professional world of intercollegiate athletes, I have become so passionate about constantly educating myself on ways that we can continue developing student-athletes in all areas of life.”
Neeley hopes her research will shed light on the student-athlete population as more than just physical preparation and performance. In order to have a healthy, positive student-athlete experience, she believes they must have personal growth and development as well, including all aspects of health and wellness.
As for the future, she hopes to submit her research to journals next spring and potentially present at a couple professional conferences. She states, “if a Ph.D. is in my future, it will definitely be down the road a few years.” Neeley wants to thank her mentors in the athletic department who invested in her and supported her dreams beyond athletics.Share this post