Donnell encourages his players to ‘Be fair, be firm and forgive’


Courtesy of Coach Donnell

Coach Donnell gathers his players during a timeout.

Benaiah Hanson, Staff

Coach Donnell looks visibly drained. He’d just finished his second season as the Spartans’ boys varsity basketball head coach with an agonizing loss in the DII Boys Varsity Championship game to Pelham, 57-54. Yet he brightens once the students in his freshman transition lab. “Kids are never done,” he says. 

Coach Donnell loves his players and finds inspiration in them. “If seeing the group of kids wearing the uniform everyday, willing to work hard everyday, doesn’t inspire you then I don’t know what will,” he said. 

Coach Donnell began his tenure as the boys’ varsity coach in the middle of the season last year when the former head coach resigned. It was a difficult position to fill. “I knew it could either go really bad really quick, or we had to start over,” he said. 

He finished his first season with 6-1 record, losing in the quarter finals, which was an impressive turnaround for the Spartans boys. 

One thing was for certain: Whatever Coach Donnell was doing, it was working. 

“The biggest thing I want out of coaching is for the players to develop a love for the game, to have fun, and build lasting relationships,” said Coach Donnell. “I still talk to kids I coached more than 20 years ago.” 

Coach Donnell said his  philosophy is simple: “Be fair, be firm, and forgive.” This is something he said he lives by when he meets new players while deepening his bond with current players. 

This year, the boys varsity  team finished where they left off with a 18-2 record before losing to the heartbreaker to Pelham. 

“I was sad for them, but I wasn’t disappointed,” said Coach Donnell. “We didn’t lose the game, we made [Pelham] win it. We brought the community together and that is something to be proud of.”