Donna Lenseigne, who turned the Gonzaga Prep girls tennis program into a powerhouse, passed away unexpectedly early Tuesday. She was 51.
Lenseigne died of organ failure, G-Prep activities coordinator Paul Manfred said.
“She woke up Monday feeling crummy,” Manfred said. “She already had a scheduled doctor’s appointment. After she went to the doctor they took her right to the hospital.”
Manfred said doctors performed open heart surgery. They discovered a few of her organs were failing, Manfred said.
“She formed great relationships with the girls and that’s what made her such a great coach and person,” Manfred said. “She’s going to be greatly missed.”
Lenseigne (pronounced lon sing) served as G-Prep’s registrar and admissions secretary.
Not long after taking over as the Bullpups’ tennis coach, Lenseigne got the program rolling. G-Prep won seven straight Greater Spokane League championships (1997-2003). The Bullpups didn’t lose a match for eight years. When Lewis and Clark defeated G-Prep on April 13, 2003, it was the Bullpups’ first loss dating back to 1996.
G-Prep President Al Falkner broke the news of Lenseigne’s death in an e-mail to the G-Prep community.
“She was one of the most talented, hard working, caring and positive people I have ever met,” Falkner shared in the e-mail. “She was one of the main driving forces behind our new tennis courts and has been the most successful tennis coach in the Spokane area for many years. Over 80 girls turned out for tennis each year because of her passion, care and love of her players.”
Lenseigne, who grew up in Pasco, is survived by her husband, Dale, and their three adult children – Kevin, Renee and Jake.
A rosary will be held at Gonzaga Prep’s chapel on Friday at 7 p.m. The funeral will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at St. Thomas Moore.
Mike Arte, G-Prep’s head girls basketball coach, hired Lenseigne to coach tennis back in the mid 1990s when he was activities director.
“The most amazing thing is every year we’d have 60 to 80 girls turn out for tennis and we would not cut any of them,” Arte said. “We had C squads and second C squads. Her impact was not just on the great players, but on the kids who picked up a racquet for the first time and the way she inspired them.”
Lenseigne had undergone two operations for melonoma cancer in the spring and had begun a series of follow-up treatments last week.
“As our registrar, she was the face of Gonzaga Prep,” Arte said. “She was the first person a seventh grader or eighth grader would see. She would be the one a parent would call to talk to about applying to have their child come to Gonzaga Prep.”