Introducing The Inaugural Donovan Award

A new player-voted award for Division III college ultimate.

The Donovan Award logo. Design by Claire Kelley.

Ultiworld is proud to announce that nominations are open for the inaugural Donovan Award.

The Donovan Award will be awarded to a female and male player from Division III who are selected by their peers in the division. The ideal candidate for the award meets the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrates an exceptional level of skill and athleticism on the field.
  2. Upholds the principles of Spirit of the Game, equity, and fairness in their own actions, as well as holding teammates accountable to do the same.
  3. Is a leader off the field, both on their team and in the greater ultimate community.

The Donovan Award is named after the late Kelly Donovan. Below is the nomination Ultiworld received to name the award after Donovan from Alyssa Kelly and Gwen Ambler:

We are nominating Kelly Donovan for the namesake of the D-III college division peer-voted award. Kelly went to Drake University and was critical in the development of their women’s program. She was well-known in the Midwest as a phenomenal player who emulated grit and loyalty with her play and her voice. “That girl from Prion” was intimidating – until you met her off the field. Kelly was exuberantly welcoming and always ready for a dance party. As a teammate and coach, she had high standards for work ethic and commitment. She took just as much pride in the players on the sideline as those on the field, and pushed her teammates to always be committed and improving. Kelly did everything at 100% and is deeply missed by those across the country who had the honor of being coached by her or stepping on the field with her as teammates or opponents.

Players of the D-III college division emulating the characteristics of talent, grit, loyalty, warmth, spirit, commitment, and generosity would be well-deserving of The Donovan Award.

While Ultiworld received numerous worthy nominations, we believe that Kelly captures the spirit, talent, and commitment to growing the sport that we are looking for in the ideal winners of this award, and we are honored to present the Donovan Award to help carry on Kelly’s legacy.

Donovan passed away from sudden cardiac arrest in December 2016 while coaching the mixed ultimate team at Ingraham High School in Seattle, WA. She was 30 years old.

Nominations for the award are open now through April 28th. All nominations, including any supplemental materials, should be submitted using via Ultimate Central, the presenting sponsor of the Donovan Award. Voting will open May 1st and close on May 12th. Award rules are here. More information on voting will be available in May.

The winners of the award from both the Women’s and Men’s divisions will be presented on Sunday, May 21st, at the USA Ultimate D-III College Championships in Lexington, KY.

You can email editor@ultiworld.com with questions about the Donovan Award.

Read more about Kelly Donovan from Drake, Madison NOISE, and Seattle Birdfruit. Thank you to everyone involved in helping this award come to fruition, including USA Ultimate, Rita Nonneman, Bill Donovan, Nick Heckman, Claire Kelley, Alyssa Kelly, and Gwen Ambler.

  1. Michael Ball
    Michael Ball

    Michael Ball is the Men's DIII College Editor for Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (mball2293@gmail.com).

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