Jeff Higgins said the job offer came on the same day he was interviewed. It didn’t take him long to accept.
He will leave Corinth next month to become head football coach at Freedom High School in Orlando. He’ll lead a staff of eight paid assistant coaches at the relatively new high school in the center of football-rich Florida.
Higgins said he wanted to coach high school football at the highest level, and this was “the biggest job you could possibly want.” The student body numbers approximately 3,100, and the school regularly produces Division I athletes.
Higgins said he flew to Florida early Thursday morning, interviewed, was offered the job and accepted that day. By Friday, he had already begun the task of speaking with assistant coaches and meeting parents and players.
“I knew I wanted this job before I went down there,” he said.
Kevin Demer, athletic director at Freedom, said the school had 95 legitimate applications for the opening and eight candidates were interviewed. Demer said he was impressed with the way Higgins handled individual meetings on Friday.
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“I think his passion, his energy came out right away,” he said.
Higgins said he was attracted by a number of Freedom’s qualities, including the school’s academic reputation, administration and facilities. He will be a physical education teacher as well as football coach.
Freedom has had some success in football in recent years, including a trip to the district finals last season. Both Demer and Higgins said the school wants to make that success consistent and move to a higher level.
“You’ve got to win,” Higgins said. “Simple. That’s why they brought me in. ... They made it very clear, the expectation is not to go backwards, it’s to be playing in November.”
Since Freedom’s football season includes spring practices and a game in May, Higgins said he’ll be leaving Corinth in March. He informed school officials and his players on Monday.
“It’s been a tough day,” Higgins said. “I love this community and I love the kids.”
Higgins was an all-star football player at Ithaca College. He played arena football for several years, ending his career with the Albany Conquest. He also played for, and then coached, the Glens Falls Greenjackets. He’s been head coach at Corinth High School for just short of a decade.
Freedom High School is only about 10 years old. It is located roughly between Orlando International Airport and Disney World, on the south side of the city.