Constellation mentoring for varsity soccer players: A case study


Peer mentoring is a supportive relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced protégé in similar roles (e.g., veteran and rookie athletes) that can enhance the experiences and development of protégés (e.g., increased satisfaction, Hoffman et al., 2017) and mentors (e.g., improved motivation, Hoffman et al., 2019). Moving beyond traditional mentoring dyads, constellation peer mentoring engages several mentors to support a protégé, providing access to multiple perspectives and areas of expertise. We implemented a constellation peer mentoring program with Canadian university student-athletes where protégés met weekly with multiple peer mentors to discuss mentor-derived topics. Subsequently, we undertook an instrumental case study to explore the perceived benefits of the program. Using reflexive thematic analysis, we interpreted participants' responses to develop three overarching themes: (1) An environment to grow and share, (2) Building a sense of "team", and (3) Setting the stage for successful future groups. Within these themes, participants discussed benefits seen in traditional mentoring relationships (e.g., reduced transitional stress, enhanced well-being) and some unique aspects of constellation peer mentoring (e.g., increased team cohesion, improved help-seeking, need for leader training). Consequently, a constellation peer mentoring program can foster a supportive team environment, easing Canadian athletes' transitions into university academics and athletics. Further, this program can be contextually driven as practitioners can adapt the weekly topics to athletes' needs. Based on this case study, constellation peer mentoring is a flexible program that can provide additional individual- and team-level benefits beyond mentoring dyads.