Higginbotham embraces new leadership role

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

As Western Illinois begins to see the weather cool off and activities move indoors, their most dominant sport begins. Women’s basketball is set to tip-off this week and hopes to prove once more that they can bring championships to Western Illinois.

After losing six seniors last year in Morgan Blumer, Olivia Braun, Taylor Hanneman, Michelle Farrow, Krishna Merriman and Emily Clemens, people are wondering who will take the reins. The answer is the only returning starter and lone senior Taylor Higginbotham.

Higginbotham comes from Germantown, Wis. and was brought in by head coach JD Gravina for her tenacious spirit and play that allowed her to average 16.6 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. Higginbotham sat down to talk about her expectacions for this season.

“It’s been difficult with the amount of newcomers and the learning curve that comes along, but it’s been fun to be helpful and be a teacher,” Higginbotham said. “Being able to help the new players learn all the different aspects of our offense and defense has also helped me become better too. Just being more aware of what I do in certain situations because if I can explain it really well, I can perform it really well.”

Higginbotham, being the lone senior on this team, will be the veteran that the freshman and transfers look to for guidance.

“I feel like I have stepped up being a senior because of how much I know about our offense and defense,” she said. “When the younger, new players have questions or things like that I like being able to help and give criticism when I can.”

Higginbotham’s personal goals are to improve everything about her game. From making the smart play on offense to always being focused on defense, rebounding, steals, and more, but she still has another expectation for this season.

“With it being my last year I want to have fun and enjoy myself,” Higginbotham said. “I want to make more memories with more good people.”

Looking for those experiences, Higginbotham is most excited to play highly competitive teams like the University of Missouri and Drake University in Western Hall this year. Along with a road trip to Las Vegas this team is bound to have some fun times.

Higginbotham experienced winning a conference title two years ago, and last year failed to once more. The fans of Western are nervous about the team’s ability to get to the top of the leaderboard this year, but she isn’t consumed with that.

“It’s not something that we have put too much of a focus on.” She looks to this year’s team as a new challenge. “While we have talked a little bit about wanting to get to that postseason run, it’s also so early and we have so many new people that the focus is on getting better and getting ready for when that time comes.”

After finishing third in the regular season and having a second-round exit in The Summit League Tournament the Leathernecks are looking to get back to winning form. With the veteran leadership of Higginbotham and the fighting spirit of this team, they are capable of such feats, but will not have an easy road.