Ageless Athletes: Donna Segal

By Ray Flint
Published: October 2010

Many South students know Donna Segal as a guidance counselor who can solve their problems. What they do not know, however, is that she was a fantastic athlete at South during her teen years. Segal’s decision to work at South was in no way random.
Segal was born in Boston and raised in Newton, where she attended South. She has been a guidance counselor at South for nine years, and prior to that, she was a guidance counselor at Oak Hill Middle School for seven years.
Segal proved to be a very talented athlete from the very first season of her high school career. As the fall sports season started, Segal joined her first South sports team, the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team. It was on this team that she first displayed her excellence as an athlete. Little did she know that as a senior she would be captain.
In the winter of her freshman year, Segal earned a spot on the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team as well. Segal was little more than halfway through her freshman year, and had already played two full seasons of Varsity sports at South.
If that is not impressive enough, Segal returned in the spring to play on the Softball team. She ended up being chosen over an upperclassman for a starting position at third base, an accomplishment that she considers one of her proudest athletic achievements. By the end of her first year at South, Segal had played three seasons of Varsity sports and had impressed all of her coaches. Her high school athletic career had just begun, and she was sprinting out the gate.
Over the years Segal continued to excel as a Varsity athlete. As a senior, she was voted captain of the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball and Softball teams, an experience she describes as being “a tremendous honor and leadership responsibility. For her exceptional athletic performance, Segal was awarded a Dual County League All-Star Award for both Volleyball and Softball during her time at South. “Our teams did well in the Dual County League during my high school years, Segal said.
As any athlete will tell you, playing a sport is not without its risks, and during her senior year Segal was injured during a game. She describes this time as having “really tested [her] patience and emotional endurance. Despite her injury, Segal was contacted by several colleges who wanted to recruit her for volleyball and softball.
“I decided that a Division-III school was the best fit for me, Segal said. She ended up choosing Brandeis University, where she continued her exemplary performance as an athlete. Before she left South, however, Segal was given one last award. At the senior awards ceremony she received the Betty Sabetti Award, an award given to the second best female athlete of the senior class for that year.
“This was special to me because I competed with some very strong female athletes during my high school years and to be recognized was very rewarding, Segal said.
Segal continued her success in sports during her junior and senior years at Brandeis. She became the captain of the Brandeis Volleyball team during her junior year and retained the title during her senior year. She was also voted an All-Star by division coaches during those two years.
“I won the Most Valuable Player Award during one of the Volleyball seasons, Segal said. “My college Volleyball team won several league championships, and our Softball team was very competitive too.
During her time on the Brandeis team, Segal traveled around the country to compete and describes it as “an amazing experience, one that she was able to relive in later years as a coach. As a senior, she traveled to St. Louis, Missouri for a University Athletic Association volleyball tournament.
“We stayed in a Marriott Hotel where the Washington Redskins Football team was staying, Segal said. She and the rest of the Brandeis team took pictures with, and got signatures from Redskins players.
Traveling was a huge time commitment, and Segal says that she is “very proud that [she] was able to excel academically at the college level while playing two Varsity sports. The school also took notice, and as a senior, Segal was invited to speak to the Board of Trustees about her experiences as a student-athlete during her time at Brandeis.
In graduate school, Segal spent a few years coaching the Brandeis Women’s Volleyball team and a Junior Olympic Boys’ Volleyball team in the Metro West area.
She also played volleyball in a competitive adults’ league until she injured her back. Because of these back problems, she is no longer able to play organized sports.
“My priority is to maintain the health of my back so I work on my core strength. I lift weights two to three times a week and incorporate cardio and pilates into my weekly workouts, Segal said.
Despite her athletic achievements and contributions to the Newton Public Schools as a student-athlete and a guidance councilor, Segal has never held a coaching position at South.
Whether or not she would coach given the opportunity is unknown, but if the school finds itself in need of a Volleyball, Softball, or even Basketball coach, it is clear that Segal is more than qualified to fill the position.

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