USA Ultimate Mourns the Loss of Kelly Donovan

Posted: December 20, 2016 05:12 PM

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Dec. 20, 2016) – USA Ultimate is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of longtime USA Ultimate member Kelly Donovan.

Donovan, 30, of Seattle, Wash., was an active member of the ultimate community as a USA Ultimate-certified coach, observer and tournament director, as well as a member of NOISE, an elite-level mixed division team out of Madison, Wis. Most recently, she was coaching at Seattle’s Ingraham High School. Kelly was always forward-looking and looking for ways to make things better for others, which she is continuing to do through organ donation.

On behalf of the entire ultimate community, USA Ultimate would like to express our sincerest condolences to the Donovan family and offer our thoughts and prayers to the countless friends, teammates and members of the ultimate community affected by this tragedy.

As a beloved member of the ultimate communities in both Madison and Seattle, representatives from those areas shared with us the following statement:

Kelly Donovan, a coach and player within the Madison and Seattle communities, passed away this past weekend after her heart gave out while coaching ultimate. We grieve for the loss of an amazing teammate, cherished friend and beautiful person.

She was passionate about her Madison-based mixed team, NOISE, which she played on for five years. She worked hard to contribute to their goals and embody their team pillar of Game Respect Game. She was driven to compete at the highest levels, yet she retained her sense of humor and her love of the goofier side of ultimate. She battled hard on the field, yet embraced her opponents after the game and built lasting friendships across many teams which deeply strengthened many bonds. She didn't become reliable, fearless, loyal and bold because she was good at ultimate. She was good at ultimate because she was already each of those things. She was also not shy about her love for dancing and pop music. Perhaps most famously she was ubiquitous in her gold skirts, dresses, shorts and jackets. She would regularly change from her team uniform into her golden wardrobe to lighten the mood or give her team a spark.

In 2015, Kelly moved to Seattle. After sustaining an ACL injury, she turned her attention to coaching and immediately made her profound impact felt. Whether it was coaching the Pegasus mixed team, Hamilton Middle School Program, the Girls Summer Hat League, DiscNW Camps or Ingraham High School’s Boys and Mixed teams, Kelly always stood up and stood out. She brought her unrelenting passion and energy to each group of players and inspired a love of Spirit, and the game of ultimate. Countless youth in Seattle look up to Kelly as a symbol of what makes ultimate such a unique and wonderful sport. When she was needed most was truly when Kelly shined as a coach. She revived the Ingraham High School program and managed three full boys’ teams – a total of 65 kids – this past fall. 

Ultimate was a big part of her life, and yet she was so much more: a partner, a confidante, an artist, an animal lover, a shoulder to cry on, an advocate for fairness and justice, and one of the best huggers of all time.

Kelly, our hearts are full of golden memories and the desire to play and live by the standards you set. 

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Donovan and Arends families. 

Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.