Yale employee ‘Dee’ Eggert cheering on her son, the Olympian
Yale employee Diane “Dee” Eggert has a special reason for paying close attention to this month’s Winter Olympics: Her son, Zachary Donohue, is among the competitors there.
Donohue and his skating partner Madison Hubbell will represent the U.S. in Ice Dancing at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, being held through Feb. 25 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.
Donohue’s interest in skating began when he was 11 and attended a public skate while visiting family in North Carolina. He noticed a group of students getting skating lessons, and began copying their spins and jumps. Once home, he began skating lessons and soon after hired a coach.
After Donohue had skated freestyle for a few years, his coach paired him up with another skater who happened to train at the same rink. They clicked, and the two have been dancing on ice together ever since. In January, they won the U.S. National Championship in Ice Dancing, and just after receiving their award they got a text that they had made the U.S. Olympic Team.
Eggert began working at Yale in 1999, and for most of her career has been a central alarm station operator working second and third shifts. She said she is grateful for her team members in the Yale Security Office who have supported her as she supported her son on his journey to the Olympics.
“I am thankful for my co-workers who have been there to help me, covering my shifts making it possible for me to attend competitions. And cheering Zach along the way while also encouraging me,” said Eggert.
Both mother and son have made many sacrifices over the years, including long periods of separation and some doubts. “The hardest thing has been not being able to always be there for him during the disappointments or victories,” said Eggert. “Zach has lived away from home since he was 17, so we have missed a lot of times together. Training or competition travel has to come first. But when I see him now reaching the goals he has set for himself, I see all the sacrifices are worth it.”
At one low point, Eggert talked to her son about the possibility of trying a new sport. But, even at the age of 14, he was determined. “He told me if I didn’t allow him to skate, he would run away from home, sleep at the rink, and drive the Zamboni to pay for his training. That’s the kind of determination that drives a future Olympian,” said Eggert.
Hubbell and Donoghue will be skating in the individual ice dance event, scheduled for Feb. 19 (short dance), and Feb. 20 (free dance). Due to the 14-hour time difference, NBC has scheduled the competitions to be shown during the 8-11 p.m. (EST) broadcast on Feb. 18 and 19. (Outside the U.S., check your local channel for its Olympics schedule.)