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The best part of my student-athlete experience is...

The 2010 NCAA GOALS survey gave student-athletes an open-ended opportunity to complete that sentence. This word cloud highlights the 75 most commonly used words 12,000 NCAA student-athletes included in their responses.

The most frequently used words (the largest ones in the cloud) — team (cited by 23% of respondents), friends (17%), teammates, meeting, people, playing — highlight obvious themes that are seen throughout our research studies. Winning championships and potentially moving on to post-collegiate athletics opportunities are important to many student-athletes. However, love of sport, connections with teammates and the development of lifelong friendships are predominant themes across NCAA division.

Recent data from the NCAA Student-Athlete Study of Social Environments highlights the extremely important role that the team plays in a student-athlete’s college experience. Teammates are cited as the people on campus student-athletes trust most and with whom they are most comfortable. The connections and climate on a team are also related to affinity toward one’s school—an important factor in college retention.

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(Published July 2014)