By Nicholas Lopez
As a health and nutrition major, 21-year-old Allison Donovan strives to be in the best athletic shape possible.
So it was very hard for her to see her former roommate of a year and a half and one-time basketball team member, Jamee Leichtle, battle through two separate ACL injuries on each knee, one right after the other, in a matter of 13 months.
“Watching her go through that has changed me because I’m so thankful that every day I get to go to practice because she never got to go,” said Donovan. “When you know somebody like that who went through that, who’d give anything to play, that makes me all the more thankful that I’m healthy and I can play the sports that I love to play.”
A member of both the Brooklyn College Women’s basketball and softball teams, Donovan is thankful her only injuries sustained have been mere ankle sprains.
“Off the court, I’m very passive and I just let things go, but when I get on the court, it’s learning to change my personality to be like the ‘go-getter’ and go get the ball,” said Donovan. “That’s kind of like my biggest thing with basketball. It’s like a complete personality change with me to go on the court and then suddenly be all aggressive.”
Growing up, Donovan always loved sports. Around kindergarten, her dad got her into basketball. They had a hoop, and played games with the neighborhood kids. She was always competitive with her older brother, who played baseball. That got her into softball in third grade. Donovan’s brother also coach her in softball.
“If I didn’t have an older brother always competing with me in every sport, always challenging me, I wouldn’t be playing all these sports that I am today,” said Donovan.
As a kid, she attended elementary school at P.S. 153 in Queens, right around from her home in Middle Village. Personality-wise, she was quiet, but athletic. For middle school, she attended I.S. 73 in Maspeth.
Donovan went to high school at Townsend Harris. She wanted right away to join the basketball and softball teams and had a good group of people around her, which broke her out of her shell.
Through high school, she was a four-year member of the varsity softball team as a starting shortstop, three-year member of the girl’s varsity basketball team and one-year member of the girl’s varsity bowling team. In her senior year, she was named MVP of both the softball and basketball teams and won Female Athlete of the Year.In softball that same year, she posted a .528 batting average. In basketball, she averaged 19.0 points, 4.25 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
In 2010, Donovan graduated high school and looked at both Hunter and Baruch college in the city, but they did not seem the same. They were just buildings. She came to Brooklyn College because of a presidential scholarship that placed her in the scholar’s program and she was recruited to play softball and basketball.
“I liked the fact that there was an actual campus here and especially when I learned that they were getting a new field and all of this was coming to the school,” said Donovan. “It just seemed very up-and-coming and I liked the environment a lot.”
In her rookie basketball season in 2010-2011, Donovan tried to help out and learned her role off the bench. She averaged 11.8 minutes, 2.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. The team won its second consecutive CUNYAC South Division Title and landed an ECAC Tournament Semifinal appearance.
Coming into her rookie softball season in 2011, she knew her abilities, but college pitching was much better and something to get used to. She played all 29 games, batted .392, had 21 runs scored and 19 RBIs. She led the team in doubles and was named CUNYAC Rookie of the Year.
In the 2011-2012 basketball season, Donovan played in 28 games and averaged 9.0 minutes and 1.5 points per game. The Bulldogs went undefeated in the CUNYAC en route to the Regular Season Championship.
In her sophomore softball season in 2012, she was a second-team CUNYAC All-Star. She started in all 39 games, batted .333, had 21 runs scored, 17 RBIs and 10 doubles.
In the first 18 games of this past 2012-2013 basketball season, Donovan averaged 1.7 points and 0.8 rebounds with a .263 field goal percentage. CUNYAC Championship hopes fell short again as the Bulldogs lost to Baruch for the second straight year. The Bulldogs were then named top seed in the ECAC Tournament.
“I wasn’t sure if we were exactly going to get it, but that was a great feeling to find out that they put us at number one,” said Donovan. “We definitely had a good enough year and we beat a lot of tough teams in our non-league games to be able to get that seeding.”
They won the ECAC Quarterfinal game against Purchase as well as the Semifinals against Mt. Saint Mary’s despite senior center Tiffany Thompson’s injury. They ultimately fell short in the Finals.
This season, the softball team got off to a 4-0 start and as of now, sits at 12-9. Donovan feels the team has top-notch hitting, defense and the new players have fit in perfectly.
“We haven’t really ever gotten down on ourselves,” said Donovan. “We stay together and I’m very proud of the way we’ve been playing so far.”
An early season highlight included a snowy double-header, which created obstacles both on the field and at the plate.
“It was interesting. I mean both teams had to deal with it, so it was fair. It was kind of fun to play in it,” said Donovan.
Currently, Donovan looks to get in the cage and work on her hitting to make sure she doesn’t pop the ball up too much.
“Right now, I feel like I’m not exactly where I was last year hitting-wise partly because I probably didn’t get to practice that much because of basketball season coming in,” said Donovan.
Her family comes out to as many games as they can, whether it’s basketball or softball. They even sit in the cold with blankets on to support her.
When it’s all said and done, Donovan has an idea of how she’d like to be remembered.
“I just hope that people see that I was a hard worker and that I put everything into it and was hopefully a good teammate who supported my team throughout the seasons,” said Donovan.
Likewise, her other teammates appreciate all that she does for her respective teams.
“She’s just a great teammate all around. She’s always working hard and she never complains. I’m particularly honored being able to play with her. She’s clearly in her element when she’s at shortstop,” said Norah Marley, a softball teammate.
“On the court, she’s a great three-point shooter and she actually organized a lot of team gatherings. She brings brownies that everybody eats, she’s just that person that if you ever need to talk to or just hang around, it’s always going to be a good time,” said Sarah Shanderson, her basketball teammate.
She advises those who want to take up softball or basketball to play both if given the chance.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure growing up, like you have to pick one sport or the other, but I think if you love both, it’ll help you out to play two different sports,” said Donovan.
“I feel like it’s more wear-and-tear on your body if you’re just playing one or the other. I’d say if you want to play both sports, stick with it and do it for as long as you can because in a couple of years, you’re not going to be able to play competitive sports anymore. There’s a cutoff. It’s not something you’re going to be able to do forever, and so as long as you can, as long as you’re healthy, just keep playing.”