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The purpose of this study was to crystalize a single case of informal athlete leadership in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) during the 2015 season. Teammates and coaches of a Class A MiLB team voted for the highlighted participant as the best athlete leader on the team. The first author conducted 8 individual semistructured interviews with the participant, 2 coaches, and 5 teammates. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis and open-ended prompts based on leadership and athlete literature, the first author learned about the highlighted participant’s emergence as a leader on a team without formal leadership titles. Findings revealed 4 main themes: navigating personal on-the-field failure, fulfilling others’ expectations, helping teammates manage emotions, and fostering a fun working environment. Findings also indicated 1 foundational theme, having a philosophy, that grounded the 4 main themes. Implications for athlete leadership development and future directions for athlete leadership research are discussed.
Imholte is a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Blanton is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. McAlarnen is with the Dept. of Human Performance, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN.