Love of basketball deepens Donarski family bond

One of the most inherent things about sports that we in the industry love is the ability for it to bring people together. Complete strangers can become lifelong friends after one season, and even families can develop even stronger bonds. That last point could not be more true at the Donarski household.

“People that know us are like, they live and die basketball. Everything about them is basketball,” mother Pam Donarski said.

It started with Dave and Pam and their mutual love of the game when they played at Cardinal Stritch University.

“One of my favorite memories is we were just screwing around, playing some one-on-one, and I tried to go around my back to get by her, and she’s a lot more athletic and faster than I am–just like the girls–and she beats me to a spot and takes a charge,” Dave Donarski said. “In a one-on-one game co-ed, and I’m just like–I was all over her about how ridiculous that was. But that’s when the love started right there.”

And the love of the game was passed on as soon as Lexi was born.

“I’ve had a ball in my hands ever since I was a little baby,” the Aquinas High School senior said. “There are baby pictures of me rolling around with a basketball.”

This year mom got to enjoy watching Dave, Lexi and freshman daughter Macy dominate at Aquinas, but she’s still an active participant.

“She’s been coaching me my whole life,” Lexi said. “I can still hear her voice [while playing] and she’s never afraid to tell me what she thinks I could do better.”

The game stays with them when they get home, too. Walls, decor and even an indoor basketball court make basketball ever present.

“We’re really basketball-oriented at our house,” Macy said with a smile. “It’s really fun to be able to discuss the game we all love so much, whether it’s family dinners or after a game in the car.”

And it never gets old, because for this family, the game isn’t just something fun to do in their spare time; it’s a way to prepare for life.

“You just learn so much about battling through adversity, how hard work does pay off,” Dave said. “We’ve done a lot to push them. I think about the summers where they’re making 20,000 shots, and they’re 9, 10, 11 years old. I’m really proud of their dedication.”

The name Donarski is now synonymous with successful Wisconsin basketball, something that wasn’t planned back at Cardinal Stritch.

“It feels sometimes like you’re going through a dream, just with everything they’ve done,” Pam said.

The real dream, though, is to have a family bond forged and maintained by a love of the game–and it’s been realized.

Said Lexi, “This whole high school basketball experience is a lot of fun. It’s really fun for my whole family to be able to share that together.”