Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Shoenfelt (Director), Dr. Andy Mienaltowski, Dr. Reagan Brown

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


A 12-month longitudinal study assessed the emotional reactions of an intercollegiate athletic team to a near fatal bus incident. PANAS-X and the Brief COPE, administered on five occasions, indicated NA declined over time. Most coping strategies showed significant changes in trajectory. Acceptance and Positive Reframing were high across waves.

In October 2010, an intercollegiate athletic team and coaching staff were traveling by sleeper bus to an out-of-state match. The team members and coaches were in the back of the bus when they felt the bus swaying and heard the tires hit the rumble strips. The head coach went forward to find the bus driver unconscious and slumped over the steering wheel. Although the bus swerved into the oncoming lane of interstate traffic and back onto the other shoulder, the coach was able to steer the bus and stop it safely on the side of the road. The bus driver had suffered a fatal heart attack; fortunately, the coaches and players survived with only minor injuries. This study is a longitudinal follow up assessing the emotional reactions of the coaches and team to the bus incident across a twelve-month time frame. The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule - Expanded (PANAS-X; Watson & Clark, 1994) and the Brief COPE (Carver, 1997) were administered on five occasions. Negative affect declined over time, with a larger drop in waves more proximal to the incident. Positive affect demonstrated a curvilinear pattern showing increases on the second and third wave but dropped off at the end of the spring semester 2011 and the beginning of the fall semester 2011. There were significant changes in the coping trajectories for 10 of the 14 coping strategies from the Brief COPE. These data are of particular interest as we could locate no other studies in the published literature of individual athlete or team reactions to traumatic travel incidents, although ESPN (Lavigne, 2010) noted that bus safety should be a concern for team travel.


Cognition and Perception | Counseling Psychology | Industrial and Organizational Psychology