Higgins is moving up to the administrative role after serving as a co-head coach of the Grizzlies’ wrestling team since 2007.
One of Higgins’ primary tasks will be the maintenance of Creekview’s athletic success.
Since fielding its first athletic teams in the 2005-06 school year, Creekview has grown from its fledgling Class A start to its new placement in Class AAAAA, which will take effect this fall. While the school has yet to win a state championship, it has seen growth in all of its programs, with the girls soccer team finishing as the Class AAA state runner-up in 2010.
There have also been numerous region championships, with the girls basketball team having won consecutive crowns, and the softball team winning three in a row from 2008-10.
Creekview’s wrestling program, spearheaded by Higgins and Wyatt Wilkie, won its first traditional region title in 2011.
Individually, wrestler Joe Hulen was a region champion this past year, while Anna Dunn and Nathan Pelletier prevailed in track and field. Loren Teachey won a region title in cross country.
“The good thing about being at Creekview is that we have had a strong athletic program,” Higgins said. “There are no big changes planned. There’s (no specific focus) right now. That’s all going to depend on the coaches and their needs. It’s going to be a feeling-out process, talking to people and seeing what the requirements are going to be to grow and move to a higher level.”
In addition to trying to continue the success of Creekview’s athletic programs, Higgins said that the school will add boys and girls lacrosse teams next spring.
“It’s been something in the works for a couple of years,” he said. “They’ve had club status for awhile, and the youth programs (have) been building. We’ve been trying to figure out what needs to be done to add it as a varsity sport and it looks like we’ll be competing this year.”
In order to help start the new programs and continue to focus on building the old ones, Higgins will draw upon his experience as a coach, particularly in the area.
Higgins first arrived in Cherokee County in 1992, when he served as an assistant wrestling coach at Sequoyah under Bob Eddy. He became the Chiefs’ head coach in 1998 — after Eddy became the school’s athletic director — and he remained at Sequoyah until 2007, when he moved on to rejoin Eddy at Creekview, where the latter had moved to as principal until his retirement in May.
“I think it’s going to help quite a bit,” Higgins said of his experience. “Obviously, I have a good bit of information about wrestling, but in working with the GHSA and their rules and guidelines (as a coach), it will be beneficial. Dealing with the coaches in the program, I think that’s all going to play in. I think it will make for a good transition.”
Few are as familiar with Higgins as Wilkie is. Wilkie was a two-time state champion wrestler for Higgins at Sequoyah.
“I just generally think he’s a nice guy,” Wilkie said. “If you’re in the heat of battle or just hanging out, it doesn’t matter. He likes to go hiking and get out and about. He loves his kid. He’s an all-around good guy. He’s genuinely a good person. He takes care of business, but is also looking out for others.”
Wilkie pointed out the trait that might best make Higgins suited for a position as Creekview’s athletic director is from his days coaching the wrestling program.
“A wrestler could look to him for instruction or advice, not just in wrestling, but if he had problems in school or elsewhere,” Wilkie said. “One thing he taught me is that there are many kids that are good for wrestling, but there are many times where wrestling is good for the kid.
“He showed me patience and what the real goal is here — we want them to be wrestlers, but we also want them to be successful in life. The true goal is off the mat. We want to make them a better person and a better citizen, as well as a good athlete and a good student as well.”