Your Neighbor: Meet Millesa (Calicott) Covington

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

When you are young and lucky enough to have a teacher or coach who goes the extra mile, you never forget it, especially when that coach or teacher teaches you life lessons both on and off the athletic field or court.

Millesa (Calicott) Covington strives to provide that to her athletes and students daily at Summit School as a physical education teacher and coach.

As a former Division I athlete who played in her hometown at Wake Forest University, Covington began playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball in the 5th grade.

“In my formative years, Coach Amanda (Cross) Brown and Lana Davis really helped me develop a love for the game of basketball. It never felt like something that I had to do and was always the highlight of my day,” Covington said. “My AAU coach, Tish Grant, and high school coach, Rick Anderson, pushed me to be the best player that I could be, but yet I felt that caring aspect from them as a person. It’s a tough balance, but I was lucky enough to get both, which helped me as a player and as a person.”

It didn’t take long for Covington to become a standout player in a competitive field. As a freshman, she received the Mary Garber Most Valuable Player award. Covington made all-conference in basketball every year as a Spartan at Mt. Tabor High School. As Covington continued to be recognized with nominations to the McDonalds 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 it was going to be the right fit for her.

“It was there that I had Charlene Curtis as a coach,” Covington said. “She defined a lot of how I do individual basketball sessions with my players. She made a lasting impact on me. Even though she has since passed, who she was truly lives on.”

After Covington played all four years on the Demon Deacons basketball team as a shooting guard, she graduated with a degree in elementary education and a minor in psychology. Ready to make a difference in education as both a teacher and coach, she benefited her students greatly because of her own experiences.

“I really feel for these athletes today because they feel the need to commit to one sport so early on,” Covington said. “I really believe I was a better basketball player because I did multiple sports, including playing goalie in soccer. You learn different skill sets in different sports, and it also gives muscle groups a break because you’re using different ones. For instance, soccer really taught me about reading the passing, being able to find the open spaces, and stealing for defensive purposes. Because of that, I always support all of our athletes outside of school, whether it’s dance, horseback riding or another sport. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of these kids are committed wholeheartedly to both, and I want to support that.”

Currently, Covington is coaching a sports team every season at Summit School to include girls’ volleyball (JV and varsity), girls JV basketball, and varsity girls’ soccer.

“Prior to that, I had begun coaching at the Steelers for AAU for several years and for my alma mater, Mt. Tabor, as an assistant coach to the girls’ basketball program,” Covington said. “I was excited when I was offered the opportunity to become a head coach at Summit.”

Currently heading up the Summit varsity girls’ soccer program, she has started the season off strong with a conference win.

“I want my players to have a voice and to know that with me, I want to hear it,” Covington said. “I want to see them flourish both on and off the field. I enjoy getting to know them individually and letting them know I’m invested in their reaching their potential. From my coaches that have made an impact, it’s fun to hold that connection. It made a difference for me, and it’s fun to see these kids when their eyes really open and develop.”

Covington also enjoys participating in the summer programs and sports camps at Summit School.

“This will be my 3rd year running basketball camps at Summit,” Covington said.

Last year, one of her basketball camps had the most participants.

“I do a variety of levels ranging (from) intermediate to advanced, so it provides an opportunity for different skill sets, which I enjoy,” Covington said. “I have a curriculum background, so I love developing the programs. From all the various camps I attended, I try and pull my favorite drills and exercises that made the most impact on me as a player. The kids seem to really respond to it and enjoy it, which is the greatest reward. Knowing your part of an athlete’s journey to really love and learn a sport is such a gift.”