Donnelly wows the tennis team and school with latest Top 30 award

Ben Soullier

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In a college career flush with success and recognition, Brooke Donnelly, ’17, has received one more accolade as a Top 30 Honoree for NCAA Women of the Year.

Donnelly, who graduated last spring, was both a standout tennis player and exemplary student during her four years at W&L. Among several other awards, she was both ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a valedictorian for Washington and Lee’s Class of 2017.

In tennis, she is seventh all-time in program history in singles wins and a four-time All-American. Academically speaking, Donnelly was an accounting and business administration major, which has translated into a job working for the investment banking branch of J.P. Morgan in New York City.

The NCAA allows each school to nominate one or two athletes for NCAA Woman of the Year and then has a selection committee that determines the top 10 honorees in each of the three divisions of competition. All 30 of the honorees will be officially recognized at an awards dinner later this fall.

Head Women’s Tennis Coach Erin Ness said she was not shocked by the announcement.

“Part of me was not surprised just because of how amazing of a person Brooke is and how much of an impact she has had, not just on this program but on this campus as well,” Ness said. “That award is one of the greatest honors a student-athlete could get and it is just a capstone to her career here and a

testament to how great of a person she is and how much she has done for this university as a whole.”

While Ness may not have been surprised by Donnelly’s accolade, Donnelly herself had no inkling that it was coming.

“That was definitely a huge surprise,” Donnelly said. “It was also a really big honor that I really wasn’t expecting, especially since I already graduated and hadn’t really been thinking about that stuff.”

Donnelly has found that her new job has come with “a pretty steep learning curve,” but credits parts of her W&L experience for helping her make the adjustments.

“It prepared me to get a balance with the schedule,” Donnelly said, “handling pressure and working with other people. Everything I do is very team-oriented.”

Ness has experienced first-hand how Donnelly reacts in team-oriented environments and has a great deal of admiration for how Donnelly embraced her teammates over her four years.

“Brooke is very humble,” Ness said. “You would never guess that she is this good at tennis. She cared about the team so much. She is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life in terms of how selfless she is, how caring she is about everyone around her and how conscientious about her teammates. She is really kind of the ideal teammate you would want to have.”

Donnelly has kept in contact with not only her former teammates, but also other friends from college and her hometown. Those connections have helped her adapt to living in New York City.

“New York has been a ton of fun,” Donnelly said. “One of the cool things about New York is that people are always visiting me, whether it is friends from school or friends from home, so there are always people around on the weekends. Since I haven’t been able to play tennis, I joined a running club that meets up in Central Park two times a week, so I try to go to that as much as I can.”

The awards dinner will be held at the JW Marriot Indianapolis on Oct. 22, where the NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced.