There's been a familiar face missing from the bleachers during this basketball postseason.
Dave Covey was not only a constant face in the bleachers, he was one of the most avid supporters of athletics in Elgin Area School District U-46 that you will ever find.
Covey passed away on Feb. 18 at the age of 76 and to say he will be missed -- already is in so many ways -- would greatly understate what his life meant to so many people.
Whether it be his presence at countless athletic events, many times with his sidekick Dave St. John, or his countless hours of service to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, Covey was a man you counted on, and one who wanted to be counted on.
"What a great guy," said ESHOF president Ron Lange, who worked closely with Covey on many hall of fame projects. "You talk about someone you are just blessed to know ... he was a positive guy who always looked at the bright side. He had a great sense of humor and he always had stories to tell. He just enjoyed life."
Covey was a 1959 Elgin High graduate. He dabbled in sports as a Maroon but then went on to earn degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin before beginning a long career as a teacher and administrator in U-46. He taught math at Abbott Middle School then became an assistant principal at Tefft Middle School before becoming the longtime principal at Kimball Middle School.
"He was always one of those people present in the hallways and he always had a smile on his face," said Courtney LaFerle, who attended Kimball before graduating from Larkin High School, where she had a stellar athletic career that Covey followed in earnest.
"He cared about all his students and it always amazed me that he seemed to know everyone's name," LaFerle said.
In 1985 Covey joined the board of directors of the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame and for the next 33 years, the ESHOF became one of his many passions. He was the longtime treasurer of the organization and had his hands in almost everything the ESHOF did.
"He was involved with every aspect of the hall of fame," said former ESHOF president Mark Sharf. "If you needed a guy to volunteer he raised his hand every time.
"If you ever jotted down the 10 things you wanted in a friend, that was Covey. He was everybody's friend. He was just a good guy. He loved kids and kids liked him. And he had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and dedication for the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame."
He also had great dedication for his family, and Lange said Covey really enjoyed watching his grandson, Mirko Sarovic, play basketball for the Larkin sophomore team this season.
Covey is also survived by his daughters, Christine Binkley and Sara Covey, and sisters Nan Jean Bryant and Judith Fisher.
Covey dove even deeper into ESHOF functions after the passing of his wife, Rita, a few years ago.
"It was therapeutic for him," Lange said. "After Rita passed away the hall of fame became his life. His dedication and the hours he put in and spent with it were all for the kids. He used to say his style as an administrator was that he didn't delegate things and that was his style with the hall of fame board also."
Lange said Covey was well aware that his health was declining and in his final months he wrote a manual on all things ESHOF.
"He called it Covey's Task Book," Lange said. "It was a manual of everything he was doing. He truly was an amazing guy and it hasn't really settled in yet that he's gone."
In addition to his work with the ESHOF, Covey was a super fan. He could be found at a game, mostly at Elgin or Larkin, almost every day of the week.
It was actually summer softball that introduced me to the true fan and friend Covey was. In the early to mid-2000s, during the hey day of the Northern Illinois Lightning women's fastpitch team I coached, Covey was in constant contact with me about our schedule and he and St. John attended many of our summer games, watching the athletes they had followed during their high school years.
"He really was a super fan," LaFerle said. "He was a ballfield junkie. He was always at every game and everybody really appreciated him being there and supporting everyone."
That was Dave Covey. He was there for everyone.
•Visitation for Dave Covey will be Friday from 4-8 p.m. at Wait Ross Allanson Funeral & Cremation Services Chapel, 51 Center St., in Elgin. A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin, on Saturday with a visitation from 9:30-10:30 a.m. with services to follow. Memorials in Covey's name can be made to the First United Methodist Church or to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.