THE PATRIOT WAY: Sam Webb’s leadership has taken Southwest Covenant to new heights

Sam Webb was speechless.

As he sat in boys’ basketball coach Kevin Cobbs’ office, the question, “What do you want your legacy to be at Southwest Covenant?” was just asked.

The Patriot senior was racking his brain for an answer but couldn’t track one down. Finally, Webb said, “I want people to remember me as someone who loved his teammates, was a leader and held people to a standard.”

Cobbs then spoke up and said, “That’s it. His legacy is he loved and led well.”

The fact that Webb struggled to come up with an answer to the question is actually more of an answer in itself. He is as intelligent of a young man as there is, but his humility and genuine “put others first” attitude didn’t allow him to have a quick answer.

Those few short moments may have captured just what Webb’s career at Southwest Covenant was all about: being a leader in and out of sports.

Webb is a Southwest Covenant Schools lifer and is set to graduate May 24. He was a three-sport star for the Patriots, a member of the student council, leads worship in the Wednesday chapel service, leads worship in the Wednesday Youth Group, is a member of the Sunday morning worship team at Covenant Community Church, was percussionist in the band and was also a member of the jazz band.

Needless to say, the young man’s plate was full, but he never let any of that take him away from what means more to him than anything else, his faith.

Webb said even though it was a struggle at times, he knew making his faith apart of his athletic life was crucial.

“I’m a very competitive person but incorporating my faith into sports was important,” Webb said. “You can be competitive but do it the right way. I struggle with it all the time. It is easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment but you have to take the high road and not let anger control you. The only way to do it is through prayer. You have to pray and ask God for help.”

When he was a boy, Webb said he would dream about getting the opportunity to play sports for his school.

He earned that chance as a sixth-grade student when he put on a Patriot football uniform for the first time. It was a struggle at first in terms of wins and losses, but Webb said it was good for his teammates and him to learn how to win.

“We learned a lot that first year,” Webb said. “I kept getting hurt, so I had to learn how to tackle the right way. Once I did, it helped a lot. I always wanted to go up against the best on the other team in any sport.”

His athletic career at the high school level almost never happened. Webb was struggling with concussions throughout middle school, and after the third, he was told if he had one more, he was done with athletics. Fortunately, he never had a concussion in high school.

After eighth-grade, Webb transitioned to the high school ranks and instead of taking a year or two to get acclimated to the new level, he was handed the keys to the engine as a freshman.

“We didn’t have a lot of guys on the football team,” Webb said. “It was a sharp learning curve. I remember throwing four interceptions in our first district game, coming off the field with Coach Cobbs standing there and he said, ‘You’re going to be a dandy.’ I’m like I just threw four interceptions, what is he talking about?”

Turns out, Cobbs was right.

Once his freshman football campaign was over, Webb shifted to basketball, where he didn’t see a lot of action for the first half of the year. Towards the end of the season, a starter went down with an injury and Cobbs decided to give the young freshman a chance.

Just before the Patriots were about to take the court against No. 1 Fort Cobb, Cobbs informed Webb he was in the starting lineup.

Webb said his nerves were high but he handled it like a seasoned veteran. Webb led the Patriots to a state tournament berth in his rookie season.

At that time, Southwest Covenant did not have a baseball program. They did a Co-Op with Union City, so Webb played his freshman year of baseball with Union City.

“I learned so much that year from Josh McMinn (who is now pitching for Oral Roberts University),” Webb said. “It was just a great experience.”

The highlight of Webb’s sophomore year was the baseball season. It was the first year that Southwest Covenant was going to have its own baseball program.

“It’s my dream and my goal to play college baseball,” Webb said. “We weren’t exceptional but to be out there with my friends from school was an incredible experience as a sophomore. It wasn’t a great year for us in any sport but we were headed in the right direction.”

Webb’s junior year is where everything started to click for the multisport athlete. Webb led the Patriot football team to the playoffs and put up video-game like numbers from the quarterback position. The basketball team had another successful year, making a deep playoff run, and the baseball team was inching closer to becoming a powerful force.

“We put in a ton of work at summer workouts for football before junior year started,” Webb said. “We could see it start to pay off when we made the playoffs. We started to understand how to invest time and turn it into success.”

Going into his senior year, the expectations were high for Webb and Southwest Covenant, but he said they had higher expectations for themselves.

“Our expectation was to go win a state title in football,” Webb said. “We had a great team with great coaches and players and we felt like we had a chance.”

The Patriots earned their first home playoff win in school history and advanced to the quarterfinal round, but that would be where the storied run would end by four points and Pond Creek.

“It wasn’t the ending we wanted but we left everything out on the field, so we were able to walk off the field with our heads held high,” Webb said.

Southwest Covenant football coach Trey Cloud said Webb is one of the best young men he has coached.

“He is the best all-around athlete in Southwest Covenant history,” Cloud said. “He has meant so much to each athletic program. He helped take Southwest Covenant football to new heights. He has fought through adversity. It has been a blessing to be able to coach him and watch him grow. He is a relentless competitor but he competes the right way.”

It was time for his senior basketball campaign but a tragedy would suddenly change the outlook of the year for the Southwest Covenant boys basketball team on Dec. 15.

Southwest Covenant 2017 graduates and former Patriot athletes Luke Ross and Sean Tucker were killed by a drunk driver in north Yukon after attending a Southwest Covenant basketball game to watch their old school.

“I was at a wedding that night, so I couldn’t be at the game,” Webb said. “Luke came to the Pond Creek game with us and we were able to talk for a couple of hours, so I am very thankful I had that time with him. God works all things for specific reasons but this was one of the hardest times we ever had to go through. It really changed our perspective on what really matters, not wins and losses. Southwest Covenant is a family. Everyone cares about each other and that is how we were able to move forward.”

Webb and Cobbs helped each other through the tragic event with long talks and discussions to help cope with the pain.

“People just see the success Sam has and they know he is a great athlete but it is what they don’t see that makes him so special,” Cobbs said. “The amount of hours he invests in not only being a great athlete but the time he invests helping others. He invested time in me through the loss of Luke and Sean. You just don’t replace that. He is a special, special young man.”

Webb was named the Patriot Award winner for football, basketball and baseball this past year.

“That is the top award given out to the athlete that exemplifies what being a Patriot is all about,” Cobbs said. “That is monumental.”

Through the heartbreak, Webb and Cobbs were able to lead the Patriot basketball team to the Class A state tournament.

“I’m really glad we made it to state because there are a lot of really talented young players coming up in the program right now and I am glad we were able to give them a taste of what being at the state tournament feels like,” Webb said.

Going into his senior baseball season, the expectations were high for the Patriot baseball team in only its third year in existence.

Webb was the leader on a team that made a state tournament run and took the eventual state champion, Leedey, to nine innings.

“Our goal was to help build programs that sustain success,” Webb said. “We wanted to leave each program better off than it was when we came into it. We learned how to transition better from sport to sport. Sometimes, you would be playing a playoff football or basketball game and then have a basketball game or baseball game the very next week. I loved it. I can’t stand just sitting around doing nothing.”

Southwest Covenant baseball coach Jeff Deckard said Webb is a unique and special young man.

“He has the God-given ‘it-factor’ when it comes to being a leader,” Deckard said. “I could tell after the first 30 minutes I knew him that he was going to be an outstanding leader. I have been doing this for 30 years and Sam Webb is the best leader I have ever been around. Our No. 1 priority here is to mold men of Christ and Sam is a man of Christ. He puts others before himself every day no matter what the situation and accepts coaching and advice. He is a special person.”

Webb has grown up in Yukon and lives in a house in Stone Mill that backs up to Yukon High School.

Despite always wondering what it would have been like to attend Yukon High School and play sports at the 6A level, Webb said he is happy with his decision to stay at Southwest Covenant.

“Of course I would think about it,” Webb said. “Yukon is a great school. I have friends that go to Yukon and I have always wondered what it would have been like to play sports over there but the opportunities I received here at Southwest Covenant are amazing and I wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything.”

Even though Webb’s dream is to play college baseball, until several weeks ago he was not being highly recruited. As his time at Southwest Covenant nears an end and college is bearing down the turnpike, Webb is putting his faith in God to lead him to where he is supposed to be next year.

“God has blessed me so much,” Webb said. “I know he has a plan for me and I will be where I am supposed to be next year. I know I am going to play college baseball somewhere and I would like to study business economics wherever I attend school. There is a lot of unknown at this point but I am not worried because I have put my trust in God.

While his career at Southwest Covenant is complete, the legacy Webb has left in the halls and on the athletic fields is nearly immeasurable.

“When you sit back and look at what Sam accomplished while he was here, it’s remarkable,” Cobbs said. “It will take a number of people to fill his shoes.”

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