Donohue Succeeding in Life After Swimming

  • By John Terry
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  • April 07, 2014 03:01 PM
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This is the 22nd of a season-long series that will feature updates on WVU swimming and diving alumni, as well as getting to know members of the current team.
Kevin Donohue at WVU in 2007
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The adversity former WVU swimmer Kevin Donohue faced throughout his swimming career could have prepared him for a career in almost anything.
Now, as a portfolio manager with United Bank, he performs credit analysis and underwriting, as well as lending, for commercial loans.
But the road to get there wasn’t easy.
Donohue started his collegiate swimming career at Northwestern with then-Northwestern assistant Sergio Lopez. But when Lopez left Northwestern to take the West Virginia job, Donohue left, too. He went back home to Rhode Island and swam on the side while taking a few college classes at the University of Rhode Island.
Lopez reached out to his former Wildcat swimmer and convinced him to come finish his career at West Virginia. But again, Donohue was faced with adversity. Lopez left the program, and current WVU head coach Vic Riggs entered the picture.
“It was difficult,” Donohue said. “The reason I ended up transferring to WVU was the coach. Making the transition to West Virginia and then dealing with him leaving again right before my senior year was tough. I didn’t know Vic. I didn’t know his coaching style. I didn’t really know very much about him.”
But Donohue had decided that he was going to make it work. Regardless of the new coaching change he had goals that he was going to accomplish.
“I had goals, and I didn’t know if things were going to work out well with Vic or not,” he said. “I said if things are not going well, if we didn’t have a good relationship, if I didn’t like what he was doing, I was just going to work achieve what I wanted to do.
“Vic was far better than what I was setting the bar for.”
Donohue found his groove with Riggs and his staff which translated into immediate success. He placed fifth at NCAAs in the 100 breaststroke – the best finish ever for a WVU swimmer.
“The thing with swimming is all that work you put in throughout the year doesn’t really pay off until the end of the year,” he said. “A lot of times it’s hard to see the final picture, or see what you’re going to do at the end of the year when it’s October or November and practice is hard and you’re swimming slow.”
Following his swimming career at West Virginia, his relationship with Riggs blossomed into one that included being hired as the graduate assistant to assist the swimming program.
While a graduate assistant, Donohue received a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Finance. What he learned as a swimmer and a coach has carried over to his professional life, as well.
Some of things I think about now is just how much difference having a cohesive unit can make. When everyone on the team is on the same page and everyone holds everyone accountable for what they do, you operate at a much higher level,” he said. “I didn’t recognize it when it was happening, but looking back, it really makes a world of a difference when you have a team with great team chemistry.”