Remembering Hall of Famer and Olympian Anne Donovan
Leadership is defined as to guide or direct.
Anne Donovan was the youngest of eight children born in Ridgewood, NJ in 1961. She was a standout, both literally and figuratively, at 6 feet 8 inches tall. She was recruited by over 200 colleges’ basketball teams and then went on to achieve titles most of us only read about: Hall of Famer. Legend. Pioneer. Olympian. Gold Medalist.
Even though she was a self-professed introvert, Anne chose to reach outside herself to guide and direct scores of young women in various facets of life. However, following her unexpected death in June 2018 due to a heart condition, the words that mentees, teammates, friends, and family used to describe her included faith, character, integrity, humility, kindness, love, heart, and spirit.
Those are the terms used to describe the real legacy of someone who truly lived a full life. Not full in terms of time, necessarily, but in terms of drinking it all in. Today, more than ever, it seems as though everyone wants to feel they belong. Just look at the popularity of social media platforms and how people measure things by the number of clicks or likes.
My father used to say we each have an invisible tattoo on our forehead that reads, “Make me feel important.” People want to have a purpose, and society, along with the media (both social and mainstream), has standards for what “matters” and who “belongs.”
Anne seemed to have a strong sense of self without being self-centered, and she helped to instill that in her teammates as a player and her players once she began coaching. Even her obituary reflects the time spent helping young women-in-training at organizations such as GLOW (Girls Learning Academy of Wilmington), which focuses on the “whole girl” education.
That sense of self surely came from her family. Faith and perseverance were instilled early in Anne’s life. Her father passed away when she was six and her mother went out to work to support her brood. Clearly, this trickled down to Anne and translated to her activities both on and off the court.
To be a good mentor and coach, it helps to have been coached by one of the best. Dr. Rose Marie Battaglia may be short in stature, but she makes up for it with tenacity, personality, and heart. She was Anne’s coach at Paramus Catholic High School, which is where her basketball journey began. Their travels came full circle when Anne attended Dr. Battaglia’s induction into the Hall of Fame in November 2017.
Anne, thank you for all you gave us of yourself and for the legacy you’ve left behind marked by integrity, passion, faith, and perseverance. Rest in Peace, from a one-time Paramus Catholic Paladin to another.