Author: Kate Linderman, Editor in Chief, and Elise Wilhelm, Sports Editor, Xchange
Senior Hayden Higgins is considered to be far more than just a manager to many of the senior basketball players. According to many of the senior players, Higgins has been a positive influence in their lives on and off the basketball court.
“He’s pushed me to be a better person because he always has a smile on his face and he just lightens up the room,” senior basketball player Charlie Easley said.
Higgins is a boys basketball manager, mainly responsible for mopping the floors, keeping the stats book at JV games, and most importantly, supporting and motivating the varsity players from the sidelines.
“He’s always there to give you knuckles,” senior basketball player Austin Jablonski said.
Other than basketball, Higgins has always had a passion for designing shoes for all sports. He said he started customizing jerseys and uniforms and soon moved onto shoes.
“I’ve always just liked shoes,” Higgins said.
At a preseason basketball meeting, Hayden presented his shoe designs to the team. He said many players expressed interest in the custom designed shoes, and Jablonski and Pete Blumenstock decided to order them.
“I kind of just let Hayden run with whatever he thought looked good and they turned out really well,” Jablonski said.
But when Jablonski saw his shoes for the first time, he was taken aback.
“Right away I had Hayden sign my shoes because it’s like he’s out there on the court with me. I know if he could be out there he would be.”
– Austin Jablonski
“As I was opening it, I just see a big grin on Hayden’s face and out comes a pair of blue Air 1 sneakers,” Jablonski said. “I just tried to keep a positive face because I didn’t know if Hayden messed up on the order or something, but it turned out that he was just duping me.”
Higgins then gave Jablonski the actual shoes, a pair of white Paul George 2.5 Nike ID shoes with green and metallic gold accents.
“It has his number on them and on the tongues one says Pius X and the other has my name since he asked me to,” Higgins said. “He also had me sign them so I had a gold paint sharpie. I think they look pretty nice.”
Higgin’s signature holds special meaning to Jablonski.
“Right away I had Hayden sign my shoes because it’s like he’s out there on the court with me,” Jablonski said. “I know if he could be out there he would be.”
Higgins customized a pair of Kyre Low Nike ID shoes for Blumenstock.
“I was pretty excited when I saw the shoes,” Blumenstock said. “Hayden and I had talked and talked about the perfect design and he would always keep me posted on how far away they were. So he and I had been waiting in anticipation for weeks. When they finally got here, it was like Christmas came early.”
“Hayden is not just a manager; he’s my friend. I’ve gotten to know him over the past two years I’ve been here and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with such a positive attitude and outlook on life. ”
– Pete Blumenstock
While Blumenstock likes the look of the shoes, they carry a deeper meaning for him.
“I wear these on the court not only out of respect for everything Hayden does for our team, but for Hayden,” he said. “He works hard every day sweeping floors, keeping book, and keeping score. By wearing his shoes on the court, I feel that Hayden can take pride and say he contributed to the team.”
Jablonski and Blumenstock debuted Higgin’s designs against Lincoln Southeast on December 7.
Higgins has impacted these players in more ways than just basketball.
“I just think he’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met in my life,” senior Joe Dworak said. “He’s never said a bad word; he’s never sad or mad at anything except me if I beat him at a video game. I think he’s just made me a better person in general.”
Higgins has not only been a supportive friend to these players, he has taught them many valuable lessons.
“He’s taught me to never take anything for granted and to always be thankful for everything you have,” Easley said. “Things could be going bad, but you just have to keep your head up and keep going.”
When Higgins was seven years old, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a group of diseases that weakens muscles over time. Regardless of his condition, he still brings positivity into these players’ lives.
“When you see someone who’s going through what he’s going through but always has a smile on his face and is positive every day, it can change your entire outlook,” Jablonski said.
“He’s never said a bad word; he’s never sad or mad at anything except me if I beat him at a video game. I think he’s just made me a better person in general.”
– Joe Dworak
Higgins has been a role model to many of his friends.
“To me, Hayden is a really good example of what it means to be a really good friend to everybody and a perfect example of making the most of every day,” senior Nick Staab said.
Senior Holton Harman agreed.
“He makes us realize how special everything is and how lucky we are,” he said.
Higgins has touched the hearts and lives of the Pius X boys basketball team, brightening the gym each and every day with a smile on his face.
“Hayden is not just a manager; he’s my friend,” Blumenstock said. “I’ve gotten to know him over the past two years I’ve been here and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with such a positive attitude and outlook on life. Hayden is a role model to me and I look up to him every day. I am so glad to have met Hayden and I am grateful to have him in my life.”