Announcing the Fourth Annual Donovan Award

Crowning the best of Division III!

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

The Donovan Award will be awarded to one women’s division and one men’s division player from Division III college ultimate 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 for their team and in the greater ultimate community.

Please note that this year, due to the shortened season, candidates should be judged on their play and leadership throughout their college career, as opposed to just their performance in the 2020 season.

The Donovan Award is named after the late Kelly Donovan, who captured the spirit, talent, and commitment to growing the sport that we are looking for in the ideal winners of this award. We are honored for the Donovan Award to help carry on Kelly’s legacy.

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.

– Alyssa Kelly & Gwen Ambler

Nominations for the award are open now through April 30th. All nominations, including any supplemental materials, should be submitted using Ultimate Central. Voting will open Friday, May 1st, and close on Sunday, May 10th. Award rules are here.

The winners of the award from both the women’s and men’s divisions will be announced on Monday, May 18th.

The inaugural recipients of the award were Tessa Jones and Henry Babcock, year two of the award went to Tamar Austin and Zachary Norrbom, and last year’s awards went to Josie Gillett and Alan Villanueva.

As part of a continued effort to make the Donovan Award voting process as fair and accurate as possible, this year Ultiworld will continue using the Borda Count method of voting. Each voter will vote for five players in each division, ranking those five in order of preference. We will continue to gather and listen to feedback from the D-III community as we seek to make sure the Donovan Award reflects the unique needs of the division.

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. Sam Echevarria
    Sam Echevarria

    Sam Echevarria is the Women's D-III College Editor at Ultiworld. She has been playing ultimate since 2010, starting with the Centerville HS Outsiders and later the Claremont Colleges Greenshirts. Currently based in Madison, WI, you can reach her on twitter (@sechevarria27).

  2. Michael Ball
    Michael Ball

    Michael Ball is the Men's DIII College Editor for Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (mball2293@gmail.com) or on Twitter @mike_ball423

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