Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan has been named the 2013 Neumann University Institute for Sports, Spirituality and Character Development Award recipient.
Donovan will be presented with the award Tuesday night and is the first woman to be so rewarded. The Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia received the award in 2012 while former Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau was recognized in 2011.
“This means a lot to me because it’s not an award that’s given for wins and losses or championships and medals,” Donovan said in a prepared statement. “It’s given in recognition of the reason why I love this game so much, which is the relationship piece. The obligation people in the game have to do it the right way and teach lessons. This award acknowledges that piece, and that’s why it means so much to me.”
Sister Marguerite O’Beirne, the vice president of mission and ministry at Neumann University, said Donovan was a worthy choice.
“It’s essentially an award we give to a person in athletics who exhibits strong character through athletics, exemplifies spirituality and embodies the good that exists in sports,” O’Beirne said. “We were delighted when (Anne) accepted the award.”
O’Beirne first met Donovan back in 1984, when she was the principal at McCorristin Catholic High School in Hamilton Township, NJ.
Donovan had just helped the United States women’s basketball team win the Olympic gold medal and O’Beirne reached out to ask if she would attend a fundraiser for a McCorristin student, Renee Keister-Balke, paralyzed after breaking her neck in an accident. Donovan participated in a benefit basketball game that helped raise $10,500, which helped pay for medical bills and a handicapped van.
“The gym held about 1,500 people and it was packed,” O’Beirne said. “It’s a small area, and people came to support Renee. But they also came to see an Olympic gold medalist. Anne was very gracious and generous and showed the real value of sports.”
Keister-Balke will be on hand Tuesday night to present the award to Donovan.