In the Locker Room: Virginia Covalt, Equipment Room Manager

Virginia Covalt, who manages the equipment room at Philips Gym, knows almost all of Oberlin’s student-athletes, their jersey numbers and whether or not they need extra socks for their next game, yet few know anything about her. The Review got the chance to sit down with Covalt to learn about her three-decade stint at Oberlin, her favorite sports teams and her worst laundry mishap.

Madeline O'Meara, Staff Writer

How long have you been working for the equipment room?

[It will be] 32 years this August.

What originally brought you to Oberlin?

Well, I used to work downtown in a restaurant. There was an old gentleman that used to come in and eat all the time. I guess he sorta worked in here all by himself; he just had student workers. He said, “Well, do you know anybody who would like to have a job?” And I said, “Well yeah, me.” I started and I’ve been here ever since. It sort of fell into place.

Are you from Ohio originally?

I’m from West Virginia. I couldn’t find work or anything down there after I got out of high school so I just came up here. I have one brother up here, everyone else [in my family] is still down there.

How has Oberlin changed since you’ve started working here?

I think sometimes you see it’s going backwards, and other times it looks like it’s moving forward, and you see a lot of coaches come and go, [but] I think right now it’s pretty good.

Do you have a favorite team?

I think they’re all sort of special in their own way. There’s always a couple people on a team who are special in their own way.

You’ve probably seen a lot of interesting players come through Oberlin. Are there any that stand out to you?

Well, we used to have a girl on [the] lacrosse [team] — she was really good. Her name was Lisa, Lisa Longstreth [OC ’90]. We used to order things from her family[’s company], I think. Then we had one field hockey player whose name was Abigail. We called her Pruney. I just liked to watch her play, you know.

Why did they call her Pruney?

I don’t know. That’s what they were calling her when she came here! [Laughs.] I have no idea!

What has been your craziest equipment room moment?

I think one of the craziest ones was only three years ago. We had soccer games back-to-back, so [I had] to wash the uniforms and get them right back. I had them in the big washer, and it quit working. I couldn’t get it to spin out or anything, so finally we had to have the electrician come over and take the front off, and I just barely got them in there in time for the game. It was [a] panicky [moment].

Has your job changed over the course of your career here?

I don’t think the job has changed a whole lot; the teams are just bigger. I can remember one time when we had seven or eight girls on cross country and now there are 37. Like lacrosse last year, I don’t think we had as many as we have this year, which is good.

What do you like about Oberlin? What do you like about working in the equipment room?

It’s pretty cool. Most of the people are pretty friendly. I like all the coaches here and everything. And [in the equipment room] you don’t have to totally kill yourself. There are some days you feel like you’re going to, but then it just depends on what’s going on. Like last night we had men’s lacrosse and baseball games but then tonight there aren’t any games. It’s a balance.

Are there any particular sports you like to watch?

That’s sort of a toss-up. I like football; I like baseball. I like all sports.

Did you play any sports growing up?

Just softball.

Who is your favorite professional team?

For baseball, the [New York] Yankees. I’ve just always liked them. Actually I’m a big [Cleveland] Indians fan, too, but I’ve always liked the Yankees. I’ve seen them when they’ve played Cleveland. [As for football], I’ve seen the [Cleveland] Browns play a few times. Maybe I have to say [they’re my favorite team]. I wish they played better.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to read. In the summer I like to do gardening and yard work. I read a lot in the summer.

What kind of books?

Mysteries are [my favorite]. I like all [mysteries]. A lot of the books by John Parker. [And] John Grisham — I’ve read all of his