GAMEDAY FEATURE STORY
by Cathy Bongiovi, Athletic Communications
Basketball has always been a part of Erica Covile
's life. It was a family event. The youngest of nine children, Covile learned the sport from her five brothers and three sisters.
Like her twin brother Eric and brother Christian, Erica also played at John Glenn High School. Brother Kawaun played for Tuskegee (Ala.) University, and brother Ryvon, who played at Detroit Mercy, currently plays professionally overseas.
"Everybody in my family plays basketball," the sophomore said.
The Temple guard's biggest influence was her father, Louis James Covile, who passed away in August 2012, just as Erica entered her freshman year on North Broad Street.
"I was at home. I was on my way back to school the same day," Covile shared. "He had heart failure, kidney failure; he was on dialysis. It was a lot of stuff."
While her father isn't here to see her play, Covile carries a piece of him with her.
"I write his initials 'LJC' on my wrists before every game and sometimes for practice," she said.
"We're trying to be that extended family for her away from home," said head coach Tonya Cardoza
. "I know how difficult it was for her, being a freshman and coming from a huge family, and her dad being so supportive of her basketball career. It was really hard for her, and we just had to help her through it and let her know that everything was o.k."
* * *
Moving away from her native Detroit was an easy decision during the recruiting process.
"I just wanted to get away from home. I wanted to see what (Philly) would be like," Coville said. "I like that Temple is in the city. I just like everything around here, the surroundings. And I love the coaches."
Covile had an outstanding prep career. A four-time All-State, All-City, and All-Area selection, she was a two-year letterwinner at John Glenn HS in Westland, Mich. As a senior, she led the team to a 25-2 record and to a 22-3 record as a junior. The team was conference champion her senior year. Covile played for Detroit Cody High School her first two years.
As a true freshman at Temple, Covile played in 16 games with seven starts before being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Named to Athletic Director's Honor Roll for sporting a 3.0+ grade-point average, the Tourism & Hospitality major averaged 4.6 points in 18.1 minutes per game. Covile led all players with a career-high 12 rebounds against VCU. She hit 5-of-7 from the field and went 3-of-3 at the line, finishing with a career-high 13 points off the bench in a win against Western Michigan.
But following her knee injury during a routine practice, Covile was ready to go home … for good.
"It got to a point where she actually wanted to give up, and we tried to convey to her that was not what her dad would have wanted," Cardoza said. "He pushed her to be the player that she is and to get to this point. It would have been a disservice if she had given up his dream, and his dream was that all of his kids went off to college. And they all have."
Cardoza has seen Covile grow and emerge this season. Covile is a member of the starting line-up. The sophomore averages nearly 10 points per game but takes more pride in her defensive skills. Covile is the team leader in blocks and steals.
"This year, because of how she's handled it, she realized that this was his dream for her; she's approached this season a lot differently," Cardoza said. "She's tackled it head on, and I think she wants to try to make sure he sees that and he's proud of her. Her family back home has been supportive of her. But more importantly her teammates have hovered around her and let her know that they're there."
As a member of one of the youngest teams in the country last year, Covile has some big goals for her sophomore season.
"As a team, I just want us to win 20 games or more and make it to the NCAA Tournament," she shared. "As an individual, I just want to play well for the team, do the little things. I need to be more of a scorer and defender to help my team win."
Before her collegiate career is over, Covile has one lofty goal in mind__
American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Covile is influencing the freshman class, too. She shares a dorm suite with the trio in Temple's newest building—Morgan Hall, rooming with Safiya Martin
"We take care of each other," Martin said. "We're very close."
Covile's teammates are her support away from home.
"It's hard. I still cry every day," Covile said about her father. "He's been around basketball all this time, and as soon as I get to college he doesn't get the chance to see me play."
Covile, whose family flew in to see her play in the Michigan State game, is worried about her mother Dara.
"We've been holding her up. She's still trying to cope."
Like the rest of her family, Covile takes it one day at a time. But with the support of her family in Detroit and her family at Temple, Covile can rest assured that her father is proud of her every day.