Higginbotham was loyal, dedicated to JCJC

Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: shawn.wansley@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-09-22 15:32:07

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Elmer Higginbotham set quite an example for all, both on and off the field of play.

“The thing I remember about Coach Higg when he coached football here – and you hear this on Saturday mornings on ESPN when the experts and the pundits talk about work ethic, dedication and loyalty – is he lived those things every day,” said longtime Jones County Junior College athletic trainer Joey Davis. “All coaches preach that in the pregame speech and in the postpractice huddle.

“But Coach Higg lived those things every day. It was not a situational thing. With Coach Higg it was every day, not when it was just convenient.”

Higginbotham, who served as head football at JCJC from 1988-91 and as an assistant football coach from 1971-87 and as head baseball coach from 1971-88, was selected to be a part of the Bobcat Sports Hall of Fame this year.

Higginbotham, along with Dale Crowder, Parker Dykes, Wilmer Dennis and Kenneth Schulte, will be inducted in a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Saturday during a banquet in A.B. Howard Gymnasium. The inductees will then be honored as honorary captains for the 7:30 p.m. football game against Co-Lin Community College that evening and will be recognized again at halftime.

JCJC enjoyed great success under Higginbotham.

While serving as an assistant coach to Sim Cooley, the Bobcats won three state football championships and participated in the playoffs 12 times. He also helped the Bobcats go to the Junior Rose Bowl in 1977.

Higginbotham coached in numerous postseason bowl games and coached several All-Star teams in football and baseball. The Macon native was a three-sport letterman in high school, participating in football, baseball and basketball.

“Coach Higg was dedicated to his players and to Jones Junior College,” said Davis, who was a student trainer at JCJC in 1980-81 and served as the school’s athletic trainer from 1985-2008. ““I saw him from both sides, as a student and as a member of his staff. He was loyal and hardworking. Look at all the state championships and South Division titles we won when he was here.

“Dedication, loyalty and hard work – that’s what Coach Higg was all about. He was like that at all times. He taught me those things needed to be important all the time.”

Higginbotham earned a football scholarship to East Mississippi Junior College where he became an All-State player. He received his BS degree at Livingston University in Alabama and his ME at the University of Southern Mississippi.

He served as an assistant coach at East Mississippi and was the head coach at Leakesville High School, posting a 13-7 record in 1969-70. He then became offensive line coach at JCJC in 1971, where he served until becoming head coach in 1988.

Davis said Higginbotham was concerned about all students and student-athletes who came through JCJC.

“Coach Higg told me something I’ve tried to carry over into my classroom,” said Davis, who still teaches several Western Civilization classes at Jones. “He told me that to a lot of these kids, it’s not just our responsibility to coach them, but to raise them, too. He said we have to remember that everybody who comes through the door is somebody’s child.

“Somebody somewhere is concerned about them, so we have to be concerned about them, too. We have to take care of them just like they were our own kids. And that’s the way he approached it. I learned some very valuable lessons from Coach Higg.”

Higginbotham was an active supporter of JCJC athletics, attending numerous sports events, including several road games. He supported the football team through advertisements and also donated two bricks to the brick walk at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.

He was an active member and deacon at Ellisville’s First Baptist Church. He was a member of the Ellisville Lions Club and was named Lion of the Year. He was named a Melvin Jones Fellow by Lions Club International. He was a lifetime member of Masonic Lodge #161 and was an active member of the Gideons.

Higginbotham passed away on July 26, 2011, after a brief illness at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.

His wife, Sandra, was an instructor at JCJC and retired in 1995. Both of their daughters, Michele Whittle (Tim) of West Point and Mary Boleware (Garland) of Hattiesburg, are JCJC graduates. Whittle is an RN and Boleware is a physics instructor at JCJC. His grandchildren are Tanner Boleware, Hunter Boleware and Brock Walley.

Davis said Higginbotham is very deserving to be a member of the Bobcat Sports Hall of Fame.

“I worked for a lot of different coaches, whether it was football, basketball or baseball and I learned something from all of them,” he said. “It was a pleasure to work with all of them, but I can honestly say it was an honor to work with Elmer Higginbotham.”

“That’s the best way I can put it because of the example Coach Higg gave to us all each day.”



Bobcat Sports Hall of Fame

Class of 2007 – Sim Cooley, Joe Flowers, A.B. Howard

Class of 2008 – Randall Boone, John Perkins, Gene Tullos

Class of 2009 – Gwen Magee, L.D. Ready, Jerry “Sally” Smith, Aubrey Wade, Patricia Waldrup

Class of 2010 – Mike McClellan, Carlos McDaniel, Dr. Joe-Michael Robertson



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