Lake Forest coach Hovington remembered as selfless on and off the field

Ronnie Hovington, left, pictured with his cousin, Andreas Conquest. Submitted photo

FELTON — Wherever you found Andreas Conquest, it’s more than likely you would find Ronnie Hovington.

The two cousins, who grew up playing football together, were nearly inseparable through high school and college.

“Back then, if people saw Ronnie, they probably saw me. If you saw me, you probably saw him,” said Conquest.

It was around seventh grade that Conquest and Hovington discovered they were cousins, and from then on, the two had a close-knit friendship for the next few decades.

“We found out we were cousins down the line and we ended up being more than cousins, more like brothers, for the last 30 years,” he said.

“Those two were like the dynamic duo, and when I came along they made room for me,” said Dr. David Carter, a high school and college teammate and close friend of Hovington and Conquest.

In the early morning hours Sunday, Hovington suddenly passed away at the age of 38. He will be most remembered by Conquest and Dr. Carter for his selflessness and the impact he left on the people he encountered as a paraprofessional, a coach and as a friend.

“I always tell people that you get to meet this type of person once in your lifetime, that’s truly what he was,” said Conquest. “He was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back if he could. Any time you needed him, he was right there for you, no matter the distance.”

Ronnie Hovington on the sidelines during a Lake Forest football game. Submitted photo/Danny Aguilar

Hovington started his job as a paraprofessional at Lake Forest High School in March 2014. He had previously worked at Lake Forest Central Elementary School.

He was also serving as an assistant coach for the Lake Forest varsity football team and as the head track & field coach at Chipman Middle School.

Coaching and helping the youth were two of Hovington’s passions.

“He’s a huge loss to his family, to the community, to Lake Forest, and to anybody he’s ever come into contact with,” said Dr. Carter. “In his latest role, he served as a one-on-one paraprofessional, but there would be so many kids who would interact with him. There were so many kids that would always come up and want to talk to coach Hov and see what he was up to.”

Hovington is survived by his parents, Ronald Hovington Sr. and Jane Hovington, his sister and two brothers, and his seven children.

“In life, like in the movies, you always talk about those people who live life filled with love, inspiration and selflessness, and who just have a devotion to what they believe in. That’s who Ronnie Hovington was,” said Dr. Carter.

Dr. Carter, now the assistant principal at Lake Forest High School, first met Hovington on the football practice field in August 1994.
Then a sophomore at Sussex Central High, Dr. Carter recalls Hovington, then a freshman with the Golden Knights, standing out amongst the other linemen from Day 1.

The trio of Hovington, Carter and Conquest terrorized opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks as members of the Sussex Central varsity defensive line under coach John Wells in the 1990s.

“The first encounter I had with Ronnie was in August of ’94,” said Carter. “He was one of the tallest linemen out there. Ronnie had a motor and he never got tired. He would go out there on the field and he was a force to be reckoned with.”

Together, opposing offense had difficulties slowing down the Golden Knights’ defensive line trio of Hovington, Carter and Conquest.

“By the time we got into my junior year all three of us were playing on the defensive line. It was Ronnie, myself and Andreas, and we would get out there and it was kind of just a ‘meet you at the quarterback’ kind of thing.”

More likely than not, it was Ronnie who got to the quarterback first.

Dr. Carter graduated high school in 1997 and went off to Delaware State University to continue his playing career, while Conquest and Hovington followed him to DSU just one year later.

Hovington even stayed with Dr. Carter during his overnight recruiting trip.

The trio continued playing alongside each other as Hornets on the football field.

Out of college, Hovington worked at the Murphey School in Dover, where he helped troubled kids.

As a house aide, Hovington would do things such as making sure the kids go through their daily routine, get their homework done, and encourage and guide them in the right direction.

While Conquest is now living in Atlanta, the miles weren’t enough to keep him from staying in touch with his cousin. In fact, Hovington would send him, along with some of his other close friends, inspirational and motivational text messages on a daily basis.

Dr. Carter was also a recipient of Hovington’s daily texts.

“He never missed a day, he sent it to me daily, whether it was just encouraging words or a scripture or something like that,” said Conquest. “We texted and talked on a regular basis all the time, just to make sure we’re okay and we’re doing the right things. It was a godsend.”

Funeral arrangements will be made by the Bennie Smith Funeral Home. For information regarding when and where the viewing and funeral will take place, visit benniesmithfuneralhome.org.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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