Your Neighbor: Meet Millesa Covington

Published 12:05 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Millesa (Calicott) Covington was born in San Antonio, Texas, before spending most of her childhood in the Winston-Salem area. As one of five children in a military family, Covington enjoyed an active lifestyle growing up. “I was an outside kid. You name it, we did it. We were always within range of a whistle for my mom,” Covington said with a laugh. “Our parents also encouraged us to join organized sports from an early age. I learned pretty quickly how much I enjoyed them from lacrosse, basketball and soccer to name a few.”

Covington started playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball in the fifth grade. “I played for the Winston-Salem Stealers as a development player. In sixth grade, I began playing in my age group. I stayed with them my entire basketball career until college,” Covington said. Because Covington possessed a lot of natural talent with a strong work ethic, she began to get recruiting interest in the seventh and eighth grade. “I knew in middle school I wanted to play in college. I had a real love for the game. I made a list of where I thought I would want to go and kept tweaking it as I got older. I had to make a commitment to basketball early on because other sports like soccer began overlapping on the weekends,” Covington said. “Family has always been very important to me, so I also knew I wanted to attend a school that was within four hours of my parents so they could come to my games.”

As Covington continued to develop as a player at Mount Tabor High School and on her AAU team, she earned various awards that reflected her efforts. As a freshman, she received the Mary Garber Most Valuable Player award. Covington made all conference in basketball every year as a Spartan. “My freshman year of high school I had started making visits to potential college choices. Places like Appalachian State and Elon University were recruiting me pretty heavily,” Covington said. As Covington continued to be recognized with nominations to the McDonald’s All-American Team and playing in the North Carolina East-West All-Star game, the letters of interest continued to steadily come in. When Wake Forest University reached out to Covington in the spring of her junior year, she realized that was going to be the right fit for her.

“I enjoyed my time at Wake being a student athlete. It was important to me to stay on top of my academics while I was there too,” Covington said. “Of course, when I was in middle school I thought when I grew up that I wanted to be a professional basketball player. However, I also wanted to be a teacher too. I had taken a class in high school and learned a lot about kids and education and development. When choosing a major I was really torn. I had a heart for special education and kids with special needs. I felt like they gravitated towards me. Wake didn’t have that program so my choices were between elementary education and high school. I ultimately decided to get my degree in elementary education with a minor in psychology.”

Covington played all four years at Wake Forest as a shooting guard. “One year at Wake we had a unique opportunity to work with a team from Australia (a club team). They were playing and touring other local schools and hung out with us. I made a strong connection with one of the girls. Her dad was a coach for a professional team. I had a moment where I thought about playing overseas. I decided that I would give myself a year to figure things out while I had a paid internship with Athletes in Action (an on-campus ministry for Athletes at Wake). I immediately worked as a paid intern for our campus ministry when I graduated. Simultaneously, I accepted an assistant coaching position at Mt. Tabor coaching basketball (with my former head coach),” Covington said. “I enjoyed being a part of Athletes in Action. It afforded me opportunities to go to places like Poland. Playing in locations like that was a fun experience, and I was also able to do ministry work too.”

Covington was presented with the opportunity to play overseas in Amsterdam; however, she chose to pursue other opportunities instead. “I did watch previous Wake players go over there and experience some issues. I didn’t want to commit myself 100 percent if it wasn’t going to work. So, I decided to go back to my passion for teaching, and began subbing,” Covington said.

It didn’t take long for local school systems to offer Covington a teaching job in elementary education. “I taught first grade at Griffith Elementary School and then fifth grade at Gibson Elementary School,” Covington said. “During that time, I was still coaching basketball as an assistant at Mt. Tabor High School.”

In 2021, Covington went to Summit School to teach. “I decided at that point that I wanted to develop my strengths outside the classroom. I joined Summit as a P.E. teacher and also coached various sports like volleyball and basketball. Having a curriculum background, I enjoy being able to help Summit develop their P.E. curriculum by assessing how to lay out a program and the skills needed to get there,” Covington said. “I’ve also helped this spring with overseeing some of the athletic programs and making sure things run smoothly for practices and games. Our athletic director has a full plate, so it’s nice to be able to help support him as much as possible.” Covington had even been asked to be part of the selection committee at Summit School to select the hire of their athletic director.

While Covington’s professional growth continued to expand, she also added “Mom” to her resumé. Son Cam was born almost two years ago on June 13. “I have loved being a mom to Cam. He is so funny and loves to be on the go. He’s entertained by anything that has to do with trains, school buses and keys. It’s cute when he pretends to lock the door with my keys,” Covington said. “And I’m very fortunate because my mom watches him while I’m working. She has watched all seven of her grandchildren until they head off to preschool. Her eighth grandbaby will be here very soon too.

“I love being able to raise my son near my family. I also love working in a field where I can help develop kids. I had some really great teachers and coaches growing up. Many of whom I still keep in touch with when our schedules permit. Being local, it’s a pleasant reminder of how you can impact your community. And from my own personal experience, I know how much it can make a difference.”