Jake Covington

Forever Cowboy Student Award

Homecoming 2019

Jake Covington, who is proud to be a third generation Highlands University cowboy and was the captain of the 2019 Highlands Vatos rugby club national champions, is the Forever Cowboy Student Award winner.  

Covington’s grandfather, Frank Marchi, serves on the Highlands Board of Regents and is an alumnus. Jake’s parents, Jay and Jackie, also graduated from HU.

Covington said he grew up hearing about Highlands.

“My family told me that Highlands is a family-oriented university, and that the level of support you get is hard to find at larger universities. I like having the one-on-one connection you get with your professors at Highlands,” Covington said.

Covington is majoring in history with a minor in secondary education. He is on track to graduate in May 2020.

“My professional goal is to be a high school history teacher and wrestling coach. With history, I like the fact that something society thinks is so solidified historically can change as we learn more and have different viewpoints about events. History fascinates me, especially the rich history and culture of the American Southwest.”

Covington said he has had many excellent professors at Highlands like history professor Peter Linder.

“I really like Dr. Linder because he’s very methodical in his teaching and there’s so much depth in the historical information he shares,” Covington said.

Covington, who was a high school wrestling champion in his hometown of Pasco, Washington, switched to rugby when he came to Highlands in 2016. He was wearing a Washington wrestling sweatshirt when a Vatos rugby club member recruited him to practice the next day at 5:30 a.m.

“With the Vatos, I’ve never been around a group of so many men who compete at a sport at the highest level out of pure love for the sport. As a history major, I was drawn to the Vatos’ history of winning two national championships, and producing top-tier athletes and scholars,” Covington said.

He said every time he thinks about winning the National Small College Rugby Organization sevens championship in June 2019, he gets awestruck.

“With the Vatos, I feel like I’m part of something unique that is bigger than who we are as individuals. This is true every time we step on the field, lift weights, or run together,” said Covington, who plays the half-scrum position.

“My job is to help control the pace of the game and the direction of the attack on offense,” Covington said.

He said he likes how the Vatos place a high value on volunteer community service.

“Whether we’re helping with a children’s carnival or moving furniture, it’s fun,” Covington said.

Covington, an avid outdoor enthusiast, has played a key role in the university’s successful Outdoor Recreation Center programming since its inception in 2016.

“I really enjoy taking Highlands students on trips around New Mexico, helping them learn skills to explore the outdoors. I’ve led more than 60 excursions to places like Hermit’s Peak, Tent Rocks, the Pecos Wilderness, and White Sands National Monument. Highlands is near exceptional natural beauty,” Covington said.