» Former Auburn gymnast new State Farm agent in Madison
Nearly three decades ago, Nike ran an award-winning advertising campaign featuring NFL and Major League Baseball legend Bo Jackson. The “Bo Knows” ads showed Bo trying his hand at golf, tennis, guitar and even hockey.
Like Bo, fellow Auburn University alumnus Robin Covington knows…balance, literally and figuratively.
Wife. Mother. Small business owner. Insurance agent. Soccer mom. Swim mom.
The principal at Covington State Farm Insurance Agency, Covington formerly was a standout performer for the Auburn Tigers gymnastics team. The Madison resident wasn’t your typical powerhouse gymnast but relied more on her technical and fitness skills to be successful. Her favorite event was the balance beam, naturally.
“My coaches would generally put me up first in a meet because it was important to have a solid, clean start to the event,” she said. “It meant a lot to me to carry that role for the team.”
Performing dazzling moves while perched on a 4.5-inch wide swath of suede-covered wood five feet in the air paid for Covington’s college education. She dreamed of becoming an Olympic gymnast and her parents made the ultimate sacrifice to attain those dreams. Covington and her mother moved to Hattiesburg before her ninth grade year to train with a gymnastics coach. The coach left for Brookhaven right before her senior year and she followed him.
“I was committed to doing whatever it took to realize my Olympic dreams,” said Covington. “It was scary to change schools and move to another town again but it sure paid off. I met my husband Mike (now an adjuster with State Farm) in high school at Brookhaven.”
Injuries ended her Olympic aspirations but Covington still managed to catch the eye of the Auburn coaches and was offered a scholarship. The first year wasn’t easy, according to Covington.
“Being a college athlete and performing well in the classroom is definitely a balancing act,” she admits. “The first year was tough but we had a great support system at Auburn. I learned quickly how to manage my time and be efficient in my study habits.”
A “Career Day” event for Auburn athletes led Covington to the insurance business. She did an internship with a boutique insurance firm that specialized in health and fitness facilities. After graduation, Covington found herself with a full-time position with Sports and Fitness Insurance in Madison.
“I was grateful for the experience but I didn’t get much face-to-face interaction with customers,” Covington said.
Eventually, she went to work for a State Farm agent in Clinton to gain the know-how to operate her own agency. On Nov. 1, 2003, Covington opened Covington State Farm Insurance Agency.
The former college gymnast often draws on her experience in the athletic arena to manage her State Farm team through the highly-volatile world of insurance sales.
“Insurance is very competitive and my years as an athlete in the SEC set the stage for how to persevere and handle adversity,” Covington said. “It also taught me the importance of good sportsmanship and team work.”
Over the years, Covington has taken a multi-dimensional approach to client prospecting. Although she utilizes branding strategies such as billboards, direct mail and social media, Covington also believes giving back to her community speaks volumes with her customers.
“In order to retain clients, you have to serve them in the way they want to be served. That can be challenging in today’s world with the generational gap between baby boomers and millennials,” she admits. “It’s extremely important to know your customers. We strive to do this by having quality needs-based conversations with all of them.”
“Helping others is the most fulfilling aspect of selling insurance.”
Though she’s no longer involved in gymnastics, Covington says she still loves the sport and enjoys watching it on television. Her weekends (and some week days) are consumed with following her children’s athletic careers. Both daughter Sarah and son MJ swim competitively for the Mississippi Makos, while MJ also plays for the Madison Rush Boys Elite soccer team.
Last spring, Covington reunited with her Tigers gymnastics teammates at Auburn “A” Day festivities. It was a day she won’t soon forget.
“Most of us are so spread out (across the country), that it doesn’t happen often,” she said. “Getting to reminisce and meet each other’s spouses and kids was a great time.”
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