Woodstock, IL – When you first meet Jake Higgins, he looks like your average high school student. He is polite (using the term “Sir” quite often), articulate and intelligent. A senior at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, Illinois, he will graduate with his fellow classmates in the spring of 2016. Jake is near the top of his class in his academic pursuits (4.52 GPA out of 5 and top 5 class rank). What makes him stand out from many of his peers is his formidable talents in both soccer and football and the hard work that it takes to succeed.
Jake started his athletic journey like so many young, energetic children. From an early age he was very proficient in his first love, the game of soccer. This sport is where he first met Coach Tom Foley, his second youth soccer coach. Jake’s first coach was his dad, Curt.
Thinking back, Higgins says, “Coach Foley molded me and pushed me to the limits when I was younger.” He continues, “Coach made me what I am today. He was like a second dad to me.” Very high praise from the modest dual sport/student athlete.
Foley is a licensed “B” level travel soccer coach who now resides in Omaha, Nebraska. He first met Higgins when Jake was 7 years old and Foley coached the Dundee United FC travel team. The team was very successful and changed leagues and became the South Elgin Tornadoes. Foley’s son Barrett, a year younger than Jake, was also a standout player for the Tornadoes.
Foley says, “Jake was the best overall talent I have coached in my 26 years of travel soccer.” Very high praise indeed, considering he also coached Shawn Douglass. Douglass, who like Jake played soccer and football in high school, went to the University of Washington on a full football scholarship and eventually was drafted and played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Foley continued, “Douglass was very, very talented but Jake was a little better. He (Higgins) was stronger in academics and had a superior work ethic.”Jake played goalie for Marian Central’s soccer team and was also its captain. He also was the kicker and punter for the school’s football team. Too much on his plate? You would think so but there is much more to Jake Higgins.
Higgins’ and his fellow teammate’s soccer season ended too soon for the #1 seeded Hurricanes. Playing in the Harvard Regional, they lost to #6 seed Lakes (Lake Villa) 3-0 in the first round. It was a successful year (11-7) but some team goals went unfulfilled. The seniors like Higgins (7 shut outs), move on to conquer new and unknown horizons, while the juniors and sophomores come back for another year with head coach Jim Colvin.
Colvin had this to say about Higgins, “He’s a great kid, leader and captain (Jake wears #44). He has high standards for himself, his grades are near the top (of class). Very intelligent and an excellent goalkeeper.”
On Jake being allowed to participate in two varsity sports in the same season, Colvin said, “He was allowed to play dual roles as a junior in 2014. I get a little nervous about him getting hit.”
The Hurricanes football team led by first year head coach Mike Maloney, had a successful season as well. Marian CC finished the year 8-3. Jake both kicked and punted. They beat Belvidere HS in the first round 41-7 before losing to Joliet Catholic Academy 47-15 in round 2. JCA beat the Hurricanes twice in their two meetings this year.
Maloney on Higgins, “Jake provides our team with a weapon that changes the landscape of football games. He can kick touch backs, mortar kick, onside kick, all with directional accuracy. His leg strength is outstanding and he can bang it through (field goals) from 42-45 consistently. Jake has the ability to punt with hang time that allows the coverage team unit to close in on the returner.”
Maloney continued, “All that being said, Higgs’ biggest attribute is his character. He’s a fine young man who cares about his teammates. He’s a straight A student, if I’m not mistaken, as well. There’s no doubt in my mind Jake can kick on Saturdays at a very high level.”
Some accomplishments Higgins has experienced are:
- attended the Midwest Cole’s Kicking Camp last December
- invited to the Underclassmen Challenge in 2015
- participated in the National Scholarship Camp in Wisconsin
- currently ranked 80th nationally for kicking
Pretty impressive stuff but it wouldn’t mean much if not for the support Higgins receives from his family. Judy (mom), Curt (dad), brothers Trevor (23) and Troy (21), make up the Higgins clan. They are a tight knit family that stresses togetherness and respect.
Curt put Jake’s persona this way,”He accomplishes whatever he puts his mind to.” The proud dad continues,”He is not afraid of anything and ‘failure’ is not in his DNA. He is willing to put himself way out there to do what he wants. He is a doer.”
Judy on her youngest son, “Jake has made all the family so proud. He balances his life between family, friends, school and sports. He gets it. He manages his time and never complains.”
Jake has visited Duke and Vanderbilt Universities to date as he plans his next moves. Knowing Jake, it will be well thought out and with a definite purpose. All Higgins has to do is put his mind to his goals and watch out world.