After eight seasons of pouring her heart and soul into building the McKinney volleyball program this week’s guest recently resigned from her post after five successful seasons as head coach. Please sit back and relax as the McKinney Courier Gazette sports editor Kendrick E. Johnson shines the Sunday Spotlight on former McKinney head volleyball coach Erinn Higginbotham.
What led to your decision to resign from you post as McKinney High’s head volleyball coach?
Higginbotham: I started coaching at Faubion in 2008 and I loved it. It brought me joy helping build the fundamentals and love of the game for young kids.
I am still in contact with many of those kids today. So, I knew I would always return to middle school when my kids got older and started elementary school. With Cavin Duke starting kindergarten this fall, it had been weighing on my heart to be more present with my family.
I loved being the head coach at McKinney High, but my boys are only small once.
Do you have a special message for Lion Nation since the coronavirus didn’t afford you that opportunity?
Higginbotham: I am leaving a big part of my heart at McKinney High. The people and kids make it so special. I will forever cherish the friendships I have made.
The support has been outstanding from coach (Marcus) Shavers and coach (Debbie) Harris and the culture they have created is unmatched. Coach (Erica) Ranel and coach (Meredith) Wendt are people who started on the coaching staff, but quickly became family.
My heart will always bleed blue and gold and I will always be rooting for you. You are loved and you will be missed.
How good does it feel to leave the program in great shape with a strong foundation for whoever comes in next?
Higginbotham: I have poured myself into this program the last eight years and especially the last five as head coach. I know the person who will be the next head coach will be blessed with hard working kids who are good people and will be willing to go the distance.
I have always told my kids you want to leave a place better than you found it, so I hope I have done that.
Give some insight into how much love and support you have received from people all over the city of McKinney and to be able to still have an impact on MISD students?
Higginbotham: I am so grateful to work for an amazing district. Coach (Shawn) Pratt, coach Harris and coach Shavers have been extremely supportive in this decision to transition. It was a tough decision for me, so their support means the world.
It has been wonderful to get messages from kids and teachers I have taught over the years and just reemphasized that I can make an impact wherever I am. The city of McKinney is a phenomenal place and I am blessed to raise my family here.
What was the biggest moment or game of your coaching career and what made it so memorable?
Higginbotham: There is always something so special about the Crosstown Showdowns, but I think my favorite games have to be our postseason run in 2018. We defeated two teams that everyone thought would win.
The best atmosphere was definitely the area match versus Rockwall Heath. They were a phenomenal team with some great talent and our kids thrived with the huge fan base. There is a picture that Roger, of Buzz Photos, took of our kids winning and that is my background on my computer right now.
How special does it feel to have made such big impact at McKinney in such a small period of time?
Higginbotham: I feel extremely blessed to be able to coach and I am grateful to make an impact, but I think the kids are the one that have had an impact on me. Every kiddo has taught me to be grateful, to be a better coach, person, teacher, and I am very thankful for my time with each kid and team.
Describe the special bound you share with your class of 2019 seniors and how it will last a lifetime?
Higginbotham: The class of 2019 is an extremely special one and one I will never forget. They were a coach’s dream and played for one another.
They trusted the process through adversity and left a huge stamp on my heart. Not every team is like that and I know how rare it is to have a team like that. Phenomenal group of ladies.
Do you see yourself returning to the sidelines to coach varsity volleyball in the future?
Higginbotham: This decision was extremely difficult for me and I know that, right now, this is what is best for my family. I can’t say what the future holds, but I love the game and I loved my time at McKinney High.
I am forever thankful for the people and the support to grow me as a coach.