Announcing the Eighth Annual Donovan Award

Crowning the best of Division III!

Ultiworld is proud to announce that nominations are open for the eighth 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.

Candidates should be judged on their play and leadership throughout their college career, as opposed to just their performance in the 2024 spring season. For the fourth year in a row, the voting window will be open during and following the D-III College Championships.

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 May 12th. All nominations, including any supplemental materials, should be submitted using Ultimate Central. Voting will open Monday, May 15th, and close on Wednesday, May 31st. Award rules are here.

The winners of the award from both the women’s and men’s divisions will be announced in June.

The inaugural recipients of the award in 2017 were Tessa Jones and Henry Babcock, the 2018 awards went to Tamar Austin and Zachary Norrbom, the 2019 awards went to Josie Gillett and Alan Villanueva, the 2020 awards went to Harris Cannon and Abby Cheng, the 2021 awards went to Camille Goo and Hunter Lang, the 2022 awards went to Josie Ku and Leo Sovell-Fernandez, and the 2023 awards went to Tess Dolan and Oliver Kraft.

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 [email protected] 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 support this award, including USA Ultimate, Rita Nonneman, Bill Donovan, Nick Heckman, Claire Kelley, Alyssa Kelly, and Gwen Ambler.

  1. Ultiworld

    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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