Amy Donavan is the Head Coach of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and joined Rising Coaches in 2021. Prior to University of Alaska Fairbanks, Donavan spent time at Battle Ground High School, University of Washington (GA), Holy Names Academy (HC), Northern Arizona (AC), Shoreline Community College (HC) and Weber State (AC). Get to know Amy Donavan by reading some of the interview questions we had the opportunity to collect.
How did you first get into coaching? What has been the driver that has kept you in coaching?
I knew I wanted to be a coach at the age of 13. My first job was as a substitute teacher and JV high school coach in 2010. If I had been able to find a full-time teaching job, I really believe I would still be a high school coach and teacher. I’ve had an amazingly wide variety of coaching experiences, but at the end of the day what drives me to be the best coach is to give these young players a positive sport experience. The soft skills that you learn through athletics are invaluable in life, particularly for women in the professional world. This isn’t a responsibility I take lightly, and I love that I get to be a positive part of my players’ lives.
Who has been your biggest influence in your coaching career? Why?
Mike McLaughlin, my coach at Penn. I was pretty burnt out on basketball when he took over the program, before my senior year. Flat out, I would not be coaching if he hadn’t been part of my life. I saw that you can have high standards without participating in abusive coaching practices. He’s a winner, through and through. But he’s also supportive, kind, and the type of coach I strive to be.
What is your favorite team meal?
Taverna in Flagstaff, AZ
What has been your greatest lesson learned in coaching so far?
There’s always tomorrow, and there is always room to grow. If you have a big win, enjoy it! But then come back tomorrow, ready to learn and grow. If you have a tough loss? Feel it…then come back tomorrow ready to learn and grow.
What has been your most memorable win?
Coaching at Holy Names in Seattle, we had an away game at Bainbridge Island HS. Down 11 with 1:13 left in the game. I told my assistant, if we don’t score this possession, we’re not going to foul…we had to make sure we made the ferry back to Seattle, otherwise the next one was at 11pm! We scored, then started the comeback. A player named Maggie Bucher hit one of the deepest, most clutch 3s to win it for us. We didn’t even go to the locker room, we celebrated, grabbed our stuff, and RAN to the bus so we would make the ferry.
Tell us a recent book/podcast/movie that has left you inspired as a coach.
Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov
Fun Fact: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you.
My favorite sport to watch is soccer. Jurgen Klopp from Liverpool is on my list of people I would love to have dinner with.
As a member, what has been the most rewarding aspect/ favorite memory of Rising Coaches for you?
Advice: Your reputation takes time to build and only seconds to destroy.