From a young age, athletes are taught that there is no “I” in team. In other words, cohesion is the key to success. However, players struggle to foster a desirable team culture when the coach unfairly privileges certain players over others. On the women’s varsity soccer team at a small liberal arts college, athlete leaders counter the coach-initiated motivational climate to increase feelings of unity (task cohesion) and belonging (social cohesion) within the group. Past research indicates that subordinates use gossip as a tool to achieve power in an organizational context (Ellwardt, Wittek, and Wielers 2012; Bencsik and Juhasz 2020). This study adopts a similar framework by positing that the participation of athlete leaders in gossip with their teammates serves to cultivate a collaborative motivational climate. It also seeks to address the drawbacks of gossip and any negative impacts it may have on team cohesion. Overall, the research indicates that gossip valence in combination with the identity of gossip targets shape the development of a team’s motivational climate.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson, Jaime Kucinskas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.