Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Hannah Higgins darts along the sidelines and passes the ball to one of her teammates, who sends it sailing into the back of the goal. This scene is becoming commonplace at Texas soccer matches - the junior is leading the team in assists.
“She has been really effective in getting the ball wide, beating people and getting the ball across,” Longhorns coach Chris Petrucelli said. “It’s her ability in that flank space that has created those chances for her.”
Coming off of what she describes as a “frustrating” sophomore year, Higgins dedicated herself this summer to preparing for her junior campaign.
“Last year I struggled with helping my team out and getting the goals,” Higgins said. “My goal this year was that I would like to score, but I am actually getting assists, so at the end of the day, I have to be pleased that at least I am contributing to getting these victories.”
The Longhorns have adopted the “one more” mentality, and according to Petrucelli, it centers around the idea that “doing enough isn’t good enough; there has to be more.”
Higgins responded well to this program and took her own approach this summer, saying that her fitness is her “one more.” She and the majority of her teammates stayed in Austin over the summer to work with strength and conditioning coach Donnie Maib.
“It has paid off a lot,” Higgins said. “I can see that when it comes to the 90th minute, our team is still running. In the past we have struggled towards the end, but this year, with all the extra fitness and the extra work we put in with Donnie and on the field, along with the mentality of our team, it really helps when we come to the end of a game. We have our fitness to rely on, to where we can make one more run and maybe get another goal in late.”
She has also been using the “one more” mentality to refocus herself during games. After each tough run, she tells herself, “One more, I just have to have one more.” She says this has helped her stay mentally engaged in the game.
“We are excited by where she is,” Petrucelli said. “I think we are seeing the kind of player we thought she could develop into. She played well her first two years, but I think she has reached another level right now, and there is still more to come.”
Higgins has not just made substantial changes to her approach on the field. She also recently changed her major from kinesiology to communication sciences with the hopes of eventually becoming a speech pathologist.
“My brother has Down’s Syndrome,” Higgins said. “Growing up he had speech pathologists, and I have grown up around special education kids.”
Her experiences with her brother inspired her to work with special needs students.
“They have something else that no one else can offer, and I have been lucky to have my brother who has been there for me every single day,” Higgins said. “I want to give back to that community because I have had someone there for me my entire life.”