By Kris Freeman
The White House Connection
The underlying success of the White House High School football program comes from community support and fundraising to make facilities and opportunities a reality.
Each spring, the Robert Covington Steak Supper and Auction helps WHHS take the program to the next level, held the Saturday before Mother’s Day with a steak dinner from 4-7 p.m. followed by a massive auction which often extends past midnight until every item is sold.
This year, the date is May 10, and the goal for the event is raising funds to purchase a new scoreboard at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium. The goal is to sell 500 tickets and host 1,000 people for the auction.
“The steak supper has essentially helped build all the facilities we have, from The Burr Building, the Robert Covington Weight Room and the Jr. Redferrin Field House,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “It has been the chief contributing event to the equipment we have today and the nice practice fields.”
The 2013 event was a milestone for the Blue Devils, leading to the reconditioning of the weight room equipment, new weight room floors, and “White House blue” field turf for the indoor practice facility, where the auction will be held.
The new scoreboard is the target for 2014, allowing White House to have a wireless digital system and 25-second play clocks at the home playing field.
“This would eliminate the problems we have experienced with the sideline cord and timing issues with the clock,” Porter explained. “It is the next step in trying to take our program in an upward direction.”
Tickets for the steak supper are $40 for two people, or a half ticket can be purchased for an individual for $20. The auction is free to attend and bid and open to the public once dinner is complete and the event moves from the cafeteria to the indoor practice facility.
Items are impressive, from vacations, lawn care packages, mowing equipment, autographed sports memorabilia, gift cards and hundreds of household, lawn care and landscaping items and plants. Each year, the four classes of the football program compete for the largest return on a themed class package, often modeled around camping, movie night, or cookout.
“The financial goal is the same as last year ($40,000) and my favorite part of the event is seeing it all come together and the pride the faces and the hearts of people who work so hard each year,” Porter noted. “It is humbling to see so many people buy tickets and come out to support our program.”
One of those supporters is the man for which the night is named in honor. Robert and Lucille Covington did not have any children, but in a sense adopted the White House football program and made a huge impact on it every season.
Supplying farm equipment to take care of the fields and haul Bermuda sod, Covington also hauled the equipment for the team on Friday night to the field, which is not located at WHHS.
“He and his best fried Cleon Wilkinson would sell 75 to 100 tickets to the auction every year,” Porter said. “When Mr. Covington passed away, Cleon continued the tradition until he passed away. Their pictures hang in the field house for everyone to view and hopefully understand the history behind these two gentlemen and many others who help our program, like Burr Howeth, who was the original emcee and organizer of merchandise for this event.”
The event is sponsored by the White House Quarterback Club, as officers, parents and players lay the ground work for donations and setup each year. Players will rotate in shifts, serving food and then helping deliver and load auction items.
One of the highlights of each auction is the bid for players, who can be purchased to help local families or businesses with a designated number of hours of physical labor.
“Being able to be successful at an event of this magnitude is a great confidence builder among our players, parents and Quarterback Club,” Porter said. “The concern each year is avoiding complacency, however our goal is only achieved when everybody works together.”