Women’s basketball star won two Olympic golds

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - OBITUARIES - DOUG FEINBERG

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer who won a U.S. na­tional cham­pi­onship at Old Do­min­ion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and an­other as a coach, died Wednesday of heart fail­ure. She was 56.

Her fam­ily con­firmed the death in a state­ment. Ms. Donovan was at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., last week­end.

She was in­ducted into the Nai­smith Memo­rial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, was part of the in­au­gu­ral class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and was in­ducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.

The 6-foot-8 cen­tre coached both in col­lege and the WNBA. She be­came the first fe­male coach – and the youngest (age 42) – to win a ti­tle in the WNBA, guid­ing the Seat­tle Storm to a cham­pi­onship in 2004.

Ms. Donovan was a mem­ber of three U.S. Olympic teams as a player. The 1980 team did not go to Rus­sia be­cause of a boy­cott.

The team won the gold in 1984 and ’88 and she coached the win­ning 2008 team.

Other teams she coached in­cluded the WNBA’s In­di­ana Fever, the Char­lotte St­ing, New York Lib­erty and Con­necti­cut Sun, work­ing there from 2013-15.

Tina Charles, who played for Ms. Donovan on the Con­necti­cut Sun, was hit hard by news of her for­mer coach’s death. “It hurt bad. To be to­tally hon­est, she was the only coach I ever played for that chal­lenged me and forced me to be bet­ter,” Ms. Charles said.

Ms. Donovan played pro­fes­sion­ally in Ja­pan and Italy. Af­ter re­tir­ing, she was an as­sis­tant at Old Do­min­ion and then coached at East Carolina from 1995-98. She coached the Philadel­phia Rage in the Amer­i­can Basketball League in 1997-98.

“Anne was a gi­ant in ev­ery sense of the word and I know the women’s basketball com­mu­nity is sad­dened be­yond words by this tragic news,” said Val Ack­er­man, who was the WNBA’s first pres­i­dent. “She was a pi­o­neer and icon in the women’s game and made a pro­found and last­ing im­pact at all lev­els as a player, coach, col­league and friend.”

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