By Jon Moffett
Brian Higgins isn’t really big on fashion. But he does know one thing: he’s got a really big pair of shoes to fill.
Higgins was officially named head coach of the McDonald High boys basketball team at the school district’s board of education meeting Monday. Higgins replaces longtime coach — and personal mentor — Jeff Rasile, who resigned earlier this year to spend more time with his family.
Higgins is a disciple of Rasile, having coached alongside him for the past dozen years. He was the junior varsity coach at Champion during Rasile’s tenure, and followed him to McDonald to accept the same position.
So he’s not exactly new to the program.
“As far as big shoes to fill, I kind of feel like I’ve already been part of the success,” he said. “So it’s really going to be an easy transition into next year.”
Higgins, who attended Hubbard High with Rasile, enters the Blue Devils program during a rare down time.
The Blue Devils are coming off their third-straight undefeated season. But, the team will lose seven seniors, including all five varsity starters.
Still, Higgins is confident.
“We’re embracing it. This is a brand new team,” he said. “We really have to form a new identity, so it’s a good time for that transition. The kids know what it takes to be successful.”
Higgins said he has already received phone calls from several players, and has set up a summer workout program and open gym sessions.
One thing McDonald fans can expect to continue is the blue-collar work ethic and never-say-die attitude from the Rasile regime. What they will miss might be a little bit are the theatrics of Higgins’ predecessor.
“Well, I probably won’t be doing cartwheels down the sideline,” he joked. “But a lot of the aspects of the planning, preparation and expectations are the same.”
While different, Higgins said he will still use a lot of the same ideals. Heck, he’ll probably even call Rasile with any questions.
“I’m going into a pressure-packed situation. I’m going from junior varsity, which had 50 or 60 people in the crowd,” he said. “But what I’ve learned from Jeff is planning for games and learning how to get the best out of our guys.
“He’s a great resource, too,” Higgins added.
Higgins said it’s too early to tell his team’s strengths and weaknesses. But he said there is a tradition and standard set for the basketball team.
He said his team, though inexperienced, already knows the biggest part of their responsibilities.
“Success breeds success,” he said. “Our kids come expecting to win.”