The outrageous idea of Christian coaching : a “grounded theology” of faith-sport integration among coaches at CCCU institutions.


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The relationship between faith and learning is a central question in Christian higher education. However, faith integration in the co-curricular realm, specifically intercollegiate athletics, remains a nascent line of inquiry and an area for expanded scholarship. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative dissertation was to lay an empirical foundation for a theory of faith-sport integration from the experiences of athletic coaches at CCCU institutions. This study conceptualized faith-sport integration, both, as a coaching philosophy as well as a process of identity coherence between coaches’ Christian and professional identities. In this study, I employed grounded theology, as a qualitative method that merges grounded theory and practical theology to generate new theological frameworks that illuminate faithful practice (Stevens, 2017). My analysis included in-depth interviews with 45 head coaches of NCAA Division III programs at CCCU institutions, with diverse representation of geographical location and denominational affiliation (within the evangelical tradition). Findings include a descriptive analysis of participants’ professional and pedagogical practices that integrate faith and sport, as well as an explanatory account of the narrative process that tracks how coaches come to understand faith-sport integration and apply it to their programs. A new theological framework for coaching and its implications for future research and practice are discussed.