The Wildcat football coach is implementing a program this fall that he hopes will make a difference both on the field and off.
The Cats with Character Program is mandatory for all football players this fall.
The program stresses community service and self-accountability for the players and their actions.
"We’re trying to live the words that are being stamped all over our community through the Parents as Partners Program. We want the community to see our players living it," Higgins said. "We live in a ‘what are you going to give me?’ society. We want our kids to give something back to the community and not have their hand out wanting something."
The program will require all football players to complete ten hours of community service, which must be pre-approved by the coaching staff. Players must have at least five hours completed by the fifth week of the season in order to play the following week against Heath.
Higgins said players will help out with non-profit organizations in Trigg County, do work at nursing homes, and complete other tasks on the school campus.
"We want people to understand that we have people that do things like this already and that seeing people in a different light builds relationships," Higgins said, adding that there are several scheduled events that will be mandatory of all players.
There will also be Wednesday night meals in the cafeteria after practice and Sunday church gatherings for the team. Higgins hopes local churches or businesses will sponsor the dinners as a way of getting to know the team.
The idea for the Cats with Character program came to Higgins in recent weeks as he and the Wildcat coaching staff began to prepare for the start of practice.
"I’ve never used my football position to display my Christianity in any way. I’ve never pushed anything in that way. We as coaches want them to act right but haven’t really taught it," he said.
The concept also encourages team unity away from the gridiron.
Higgins said he has wanted to do more with team off the field. They have seen movies together and have attended church as a team in the past, but that was only once or twice during the season.
"We don’t do a lot of extra stuff as a team, because I haven’t wanted to take away from family time. But I realized that they weren’t getting a lot of family time at home because they were out running around town," Higgins said.
Higgins and his coaches have met with the parents of players and outlined the Cats with Character program.
"I haven’t heard a negative comment yet," Higgins said. "In fact, parents have said that this program will push us over the top this year."
The Wildcats return 15 starters from last year’s 9-3 team and have already earned a number three ranking in the preseason Bluegrasspreps.com football poll.
"The biggest thing is that our football players need to be leaders in the community and on the football field," Higgins said.
Stay tuned for the results.
The promotion of Amy Breckel from girls’ assistant basketball coach to the top spot in the Lady Wildcat program was a long time coming in several aspects.
Of course, Breckel is qualified for the job, having served as Wynn Harris’ top assistant for the past four years.
During that time, she has gained coaching experience as the junior varsity coach.
Breckel is familiar with the players, the program, and the community. She’s also familiar with the Fifth District and the region, which makes for a faster learning curve.
Breckel’s hiring also sends a message to the other assistant coaches in the Wildcat sports programs with aspirations of climbing the coaching ladder.
"We think we have some top quality assistant coaches in our programs and feel that they should have every opportunity to get the head coaching jobs when they become available," TCHS Athletic Director Taylor Sparks said.
Breckel is the first girls’ assistant coach to be promoted to head girls’ coach since the program began in 1974.
Mike Wright was an assistant boys’ coach when he was named the girls’ head coach in 1985. He then moved on to the boys’ program in 1992.
It’s been nearly 50 years since a boys’ assistant coach has been promoted to the head coaching spot.
In football, it hasn’t nearly been that long. Dixie Jones had served as a Wildcat assistant in the years leading up to his being named the head coach in 1979.
"You want your assistant coaches to feel like they have a legitimate shot at getting the head coach spot of they apply. If you don’t, then they’ll move on and have success somewhere else, leaving you to ask ‘What if?," Sparks said.
Thus making the hiring of Breckel a win-win situation in many aspects.
Scott Brown is the sports editor for the Cadiz Record. He can be reached by phone at 522-6605 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.