Sources of Stress in NCAA Division III Athletes: Racism and Mental Health Threats in Competition

Min Kim head shot

Name: Min kyung Kim
Major: Psychology
Advisor: Susan Clayton; Amy Jo Stavnezer (second reader)

The demands that athletes experience during competition can indicate the rising relevance of how stressors may impact athletes’ overall performance and mental health. Thus, the current study examined stressors that most impacted the mental health and performance of 115 Division III student-athletes during competition. A questionnaire study was conducted to examine the potential effects of gender, sports type, and race on anxiety, common stress factors, coach-athlete-parent relationships (positive or negative), and the experiences of racial microaggressions. Additionally, an interview study was conducted with 13 BIPOC College of Wooster student-athletes to explore whether they experience race-based stressors in their sport environment. The results of this study suggest that athletes during competition show significant differences in gender on anxiety and of sports type on a negative coach-athlete-parent relationship. Moreover, there were significant correlations between anxiety, common athlete stress factors, and encountered racial microaggressions. No statistically significant differences were found in anxiety levels, common athlete stress factors, and coach-athlete-parent relationships based on race. This study further revealed that certain BIPOC athletes may encounter stress related to their race, but this is not necessarily the case for all BIPOC athletes. It was found that BIPOC athletes experience high-level stressors related to their performance and interactions with their teammates and coaches. Further exploration in this field should be pursued to learn more about athletic stressors and their influence on athletes’ mental and physical health during competition, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups that have not been adequately addressed in previous research.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 14, 2023.

11 responses to “Sources of Stress in NCAA Division III Athletes: Racism and Mental Health Threats in Competition”

  1. Bryan Karazsia says:

    Dear Min – You address such an important topic with your project. I really appreciate how you developed a mixed-methods approach, integrating your quantitative survey with interviews that better help us understand lived experiences. Thank you for sharing your work with our community.

    Enjoy your symposium day!

  2. Hallie says:


  3. Libby says:


  4. Mariam zayour says:

    Yay min!!!!

  5. Ainsley says:

    Congrats Min! I’m proud of you!

  6. Keara says:

    YAY Min so proud of you!!!!!!

  7. Hadley says:

    Min is the best!! So proud

  8. Lacey says:

    YAY Min is amazing i’m so proud:)

  9. Mom says:

    I’m so proud of you! I love you so much!

  10. Sunny says:

    I am so proud of you for choosing this topic (I personally relate in a way and felt that I was heard). Thank you Min <3

  11. Mary Neagoy says:

    Congratulations on a really important piece of research, Min. I could tell how much your topic means to you and
    how much energy and thought you applied to your IS and your posted. Thank you for sharing your work and your perspective with us today.