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USA Basketball Remembers Anne Donovan

  • Date:
    Jun 18, 2018

USA Basketball celebrates the life of Anne Donovan, who played on her first USA Basketball team in 1977. During her Hall of Fame, 31-year USA career, she was a member of five U.S. Olympic teams and four USA World Championship teams as an athlete and coach, culminating in leading the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team to gold as our head coach in Beijing.

She used to say she bled red, white and blue.

As much as we remember her accomplishments in the game, we mourn a dear friend who will be greatly missed.

 USA Basketball
 In 2012 USA Basketball and the NCAA honored Olympic coaches (L-R) Geno Auriemma, Theresa Grentz, Anne Donovan, Van Chancellor, Nell Fortner, Billie Moore and Pat Summitt during the NCAA Final Four (Photo: William Ewart)

As a player and coach, Donovan spanned several generations of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, competing alongside, playing for and coaching numerous Hall of Fame inductees.

Donovan was 17 when she played on her first USA Basketball team at the 1977 R. William Jones Cup. While her team went 3-4 and finished in fifth place, it was the only competition in which she played or coached without returning home with a medal.

A two-time gold medalist at the 1978 and 1979 U.S. Olympic Festivals, Donovan earned a spot on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. The team, which did not compete at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, traveled to the 1980 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament where the USA claimed gold, putting the world on notice that the Americans would have  been strong contenders for gold in Moscow.

Donovan went on to play in two Olympic games, claiming gold medals in 1984 and 1988 and two FIBA World Championships, striking gold in 1986 and silver in 1983.

In all, she won 10 gold medals and two silver medals while compiling a 69-8 overall record as an athlete.

Perhaps her most memorable summer was 1986, which she noted many years later as the summer in which the tide turned for the USA women’s program.

The 1986 USA Goodwill Games team claimed the gold medal in July in Moscow, defeating the Soviets 83-60 in the gold medal game in a warm-up for the upcoming FIBA World Championship, held in August and also in Moscow. The two powers entered the gold medal game with matching, 6-0 records. The USA wanted to prove that the Goodwill Games gold medal was no fluke and did so by running past the USSR 108-88 for gold.

“We had gone there earlier in the summer for the Goodwill Games and won gold medal,” recalled Donovan in a 2006 USA Basketball feature.  “But, everybody attributed that to 'well they weren't really playing, wait until the World Championship.' So to go back to Russia and beat them twice in the same summer, that's when the guard changed. The U.S. women were now the best of the best and from that point on we've been running."

As an assistant coach, Donovan helped lead USA teams to gold at the 2004 Olympic games, and the 1998 and 2002 World Championships, as well as a silver medal at the 1997FIBA Americas World Championship Qualifying Tournament. Including exhibition games, Donovan assisted USA teams to a 58-2 mark.

Named the head coach for the 2006-08 USA Basketball Women’s National Team, Donovan piloted the team to a 57-6 record, culminating in the 2008 Olympic gold medal run, which saw the U.S. earn an 8-0 record and the USA’s fourth-straight Olympic gold. During her stint as head coach, she also headed up the 2006 USA World Championship Team that returned home with the bronze medal and led the USA to gold at the 2007 FIBA American Championship.

In all, Donovan claimed 16 gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal in various competitions during her illustrious career, but her impact on the game is more than a collection of medals. It

Her grace, friendship and passion for life will live on in our memories.

 

Anne Donovan


 

From my first experience wearing the red, white and blue, I've been so proud to represent my country. I'm so thankful for the opportunities because it's taught me as a person to be so appreciative for the opportunities that we have here in the U.S. I don't get that same experience, I don't get that same value to what we have here, if I don't travel with USA Basketball. Through all my experiences I've learned so much as a player, as a coach, but most importantly, as a person.”
~Anne Donovan (2006)

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