Hall of Fame Inductee – Reunion 2005
When Donna Sassaman came to The Forest in the Drew Scholars program she was already well-accustomed to combining sports with academic excellence. As a high school student in Florence, New Jersey, she participated in field hockey, basketball, and softball, was active in student government, and was valedictorian of her class.
And Sassaman excelled again at Drew. A four-year field hockey player, Sassaman mastered every position. She played forward line and link her first two seasons, contributing three goals and an assist in 15 starts. The summer before her junior year she was unexpectedly asked to step in as goaltender to replace teammates who were studying abroad. Summer work at a high school field hockey camp allowed her to begin training as a goalie, despite a broken arm. She started all 20 games at that year, making 122 saves and only allowing 29 goals for a 1.7 goals against average. As a senior she started all 17 games at defense, added two goals, and was selected for the Middle Atlantic Conference Northeast All-Star Team and the South Jersey All-Star Team. She also earned three selections to the College Field Hockey Coaches Association National Academic Squad—a Drew first.
Lacrosse was a new sport to Sassaman when she joined the team as a first-year student. She immediately secured a starting position on the nationally-ranked Drew team, and as a sophomore scored 13 goals and 3 assists, with 45 ground balls and 28 draw controls. She served as team captain in her senior year, started every game and represented Drew at the 1991 Brine/
Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Senior North-South Game. Also that year, she was named to the Verizon Academic All-American third team, and was a GTE Regional and National Academic All-American. She also maintained her interest in basketball, playing 10 games in her junior year.
Drew’s College Alumni/ae Association 1990-1991 Senior Female Athlete of the Year, Sassaman exemplified the scholar-athlete tradition. Named to the Dean’s List every semester, she graduated magna cum laude with a highly demanding psychobiology major. Along the way she was listed six times on the Middle Atlantic Conference All-Academic Honor Roll and four times on the Jersey Nine Academic Honor Roll.
Pursuing a Ph.D. in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins (1996) and an M.D. from UMDNJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (2000) have not kept Sassaman from participating in field hockey, lacrosse, softball, and basketball, and she enjoys golf, hiking, kayaking, and camping. Now a resident physician with Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems, she currently plays field hockey and co-ed softball. She has also devoted vacation time to medical missions in Haiti and Belize.