Student becomes the teacher: Dobie’s Higginbotham named Texas Academic Decathlon Coach of the Year
Pictured: Higginbotham proudly displays his Tom R. Norris Memorial award after being named Texas Academic Decathlon Coach of the Year at the state meet in San Antonio.
By Reesha Brown
Competing in the Academic Decathlon is all too familiar for Coach Steven Higginbotham, a Dobie graduate who returned to his alma mater to coach his teams to victory.
Under his direction, Dobie’s academic decathlon teams have earned spots in the top ten at state nearly every year. Also notably, the team captured a first place win in the Super Quiz at nationals in 2011.
His achievements have not gone unnoticed. During the state meet in San Antonio this weekend, Higginbotham was named the Academic Decathlon Coach of the year for the State of Texas.
“I’m very honored to receive such a prestigious award,” Higginbotham said. “As a former student in the Academic Decathlon program at Dobie, I understand very well how much of a positive impact the program can have on students. It was the best part of my high school experience and I’m glad to continue the program as a coach today.”
Under former coach Richard Golenko, another Coach of the Year award recipient, Dobie’s Academic Decathlon teams were crowned national champions in 1992 and 1996. As a student, Higginbotham's team earned second place at nationals.
He admits that he was not a “high achiever” in school, but the academic decathlon made his educational experience more exciting.
“I was smart, but often bored in school and didn’t take it very seriously,” he recalled. “However, AcDec provided me with the inspiration to work hard. I enjoyed the high level, demanding material. Being naturally competitive, I relished the opportunity to pit my mind against other intelligent kids.”
But for Higginbotham, winning has never been the most important aspect of competing – it’s the long-term benefits.
“I don’t think there’s a better program available to give kids a well-rounded high level education,” he said. “You can’t just specialize in math or history, you’ve got to do it all – public speaking, art theory, and macroeconomics, among others. If a student can succeed in Academic Decathlon, then they can succeed in college and beyond.”
For each competition, students work with their coaches daily to prepare and dedicate countless hours to compete in 10 different competitions.
After everything is said and done, Higginbotham said, “I see the transformation it can have on students, and then I feel like it’s all worthwhile.”
The program uniquely allows students of all academic achievement levels to compete.
“For students who were like me as a student, they become some of the most sought after members of the team,” he said. “You can’t just have the top ten, you must also have students with a C average as well. I’ve seen in many instances the positive impact this program has on underachievers like me.”
It’s safe to say that the student has become the teacher.