A CHAMPION AT every level, as a player and as a coach, Anne Donovan stood as a towering figure in women's basketball. A 6' 8" center out of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High, Donovan was the most heavily recruited athlete in the country in 1979, holding offers from more than 200 schools and even hearing out a personal pitch from Joe Paterno on behalf of Penn State. Ultimately she chose to join Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen at powerhouse Old Dominion, helping the Lady Monarchs win a national championship in her first season. Averaging a double double over her four years, Donovan earned Player of the Year honors as a senior in '83 and finished with 801 career blocks, more than any college player—male or female—in history.
Donovan went on to have a decorated international playing career for Team USA, highlighted by two Olympic gold medals and a memorable takedown of the dominant Soviet Union women's team at the 1986 Goodwill Games, before returning to her alma mater as an assistant coach in '89. Inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in '95, Donovan spent the better part of 15 years as a sideline staple in the WNBA and became the first woman to coach a championship team, when she led the Seattle Storm to a title in 2004. Four years later she coached the U.S. to a gold medal in Beijing. She retired from coaching in '15 after three seasons with the Connecticut Sun.
Donovan died of heart failure at her home in Wilmington, N.C., on June 13. She was 56.