By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
COVINGTON — Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer and senior standout Sammi Whiteman were the. perfect combination over the last three years.
The two were in sync and agree almost everything.
And it is easy to see why Meyer has often referred to Whiteman as a generational player.
Over the last four years, the daughter of Andy Whiteman and Nikki Angle, has rewritten the record books at Covington.
Her records include career points, career steals, career assists and games played, as well as the single-season record for field goals made, free throw percentage and scoring average, as well as the single-game record for points in a game.
“I didn’t even realize I had done all that until I saw Ben’s story,” Whiteman said, referring to Ben Robinson’ story about her on GoBuccs.com
Meyer also coached the previous career scoring leader Lynnette Roeth, during her freshman season at Covington before going on to a successful coaching career at Troy. After a number of years out of coaching, he returned to coaching with Covington the last three years.
“I coached Lynette (Roeth) her first year,” Meyer said. “Then I had some really good teams and players at Troy. And I got to be part of the Sammi Whiteman era.”
And as Meyer has been quick to point out, Whiteman’s talent didn’t just happen.
It started at a young age.
“My grandfather put a ball in my hand at an early age,” Whiteman said.
And softball’s loss was basketball’s gain.
“My first sport was softball,” Whiteman said. “But, as soon as I played basketball in a team setting, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I have always loved the sport.”
Growing up, it was hard to find a summer day when Whiteman couldn’t be found at the community courts at Covington — from daylight to dusk.
“I would go over there with my stepbrothers,” she said. “Our family would brings us breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
When Whiteman entered junior high, she had high hopes for her future.
“I could tell my play was elevated above a lot of the other players,” she said.
By the time, she entered Covington High School as a freshman, there was already talk about how special she was going to be.
“I hoped that I would (accomplish everything she has),” Whiteman said. “But, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.”
And you can be sure it didn’t happen by accident.
Throughout her high school career, Whiteman has done a regular workout in the morning.
“I would have Brandon (Studebaker) open up the gym at 5:30 or 6 a.m. three to four days a week,” Whiteman said. “I would get that (are you crazy from her teammates) a lot. Mainly, I have always focused on my diet and what I eat and I heard more about that.”
Meyer is very appreciative of having the opportunity to coach Whiteman.
“I didn’t see many her games as a freshman,” he said. “When I took the job, the one thing I heard was that means you will be coaching Sammi Whiteman. I have had players that may have had more talent, but no one that works as hard at the game as Sammi.
“She didn’t get to be this good just by being good. She is the best role model I can think of for young players the way she conducts herself and works at the game.”
Her opponents are well aware of her abilities as well.
Covington has probably seen every special defense conceived to stop a player over the last two years.
This year, some team’s even went as far as to play a triangle-and-two and putting both players on Whiteman and guarding the. other four Covington players with three.
“That (special defenses) really ramped up this year,” Meyer said. “And that is a compliment to Sammi (Whiteman). The other team was saying we think so much of you, we will do whatever it takes to take you out of the game.”
Still, that was ineffective for the most part as Whiteman averaged nearly 25 points a game and broke the long-standing career scoring record in her next-to-last game.
And for all the individual accomplishments, Whiteman’s most memorable moment is easy,
When Covington won a D-IV district title last year.
“That is probably the. thing I am happiest about,” Whiteman said. “There is nothing like cutting down the nets and advancing to the Sweet 16. And to do it with a group of girls you care so much about. That was an awesome experience.”
Whiteman told her mom before her freshman season, she wanted to make girls basketball big in Covington.
“You know, Covington has always been a good program,” Meyer said. “But, to go to the district finals two years in a row, win a district title and play in the regionals against Fort Loramie, to string together two straight 20-win seasons. When you say, Covington girls basketball — they say, yeah they are good.”
And the honors have started to roll in.
Whiteman was named Division IV Southwest District Player of the Year and has been selected to play in the Ohio North-South game April 26 in Denison.
“I am really looking forward. to that,” Whiteman said. “To be around and play with so many awesome players.”
And that will lead into her future — playing for Division II Trevecca Nazarene, located in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Lady Trojans have a game with the University of Connecticut next year.
“I am excited about it,” Whiteman said about her college career. “I have already started working to get ready for it.”
There was only one point of contention between the coach and player.
“Sammi’s one failure was she has never beaten me one-on one,” Meyer said with a laugh.
“That is so wrong,” Whiteman said. “You know I beat you.”
“No, that was an exhibition game,” Meyer responded with a laugh.
Which is probably the. only thing the two haven’t agreed on during an amazing run for Whiteman and Covington girls basketball.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at (937) 451-3334 or firstname.lastname@example.org