PANA — Pana coach Trevor Higgins responded to being named Chicago Bears High School Coach of the Week on Sunday, saying he was honored by the award but asked for more time to grieve the death of his 4-year-old son, Evan.
Higgins was named the Chicago Bears High School Coach of the Week for Week 2 of the high school football season. Pana is 3-0 to start the season. Evan Higgins died July 28, two days after falling into a pool at the family's home in Moweaqua.
Higgins released a statement in response on Sunday.
"I am grateful and thankful for an organization like the Bears to recognize me as the week 2 coach of the week," Higgins said in the statement. "I have many mixed feelings about this and it is really difficult for me to talk about.
"It’s hard for me to get excited for this award, as it is a reward based on my son passing away and our family's worst day of our entire lives. We are still struggling every day just to get through the day as we aren’t even two months out from the accident, even though it feels like years since I have seen or held my buddy.
"This is an individual award and I have never liked individual awards. This season has been a successful season to this point because of my assistant coaches especially Coach (Ryan) Lipe, who has stepped into some of the head coaching duties, allowing me time to grieve or spend with my family. There have been practices I’ve missed and things I haven’t been able to do because of the heartbreak my family is still feeling everyday. If it weren’t for Coach Lipe stepping up, I could have possibly resigned this year due to the timing of the accident and the season. Not to mention the school administration for allowing me to continue to be head coach even though I’ve had to take some time off and do what I can to manage this inner tension I have — this conflict I have of life still moving on but a huge piece of our lives is gone forever."
Higgins said he's asked his players and staff not to talk about the award until the season is over.
"The last thing this team needs is more distraction," Higgins said in the statement. "They need to be focused on this season and each game we have in front of us. These players are a special group of players and they deserve to have our full attention on the season at hand. After the season is over, then we can talk about it and celebrate it together, but not until then."
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In the statement, Higgins said he plans to share more about Evan and what his family has gone through in the future, but asked for patience.
"Our story, Evan's story, will be told and answers will be given as we know a lot of people have them," Higgins said. "Let us get through this season and have more time to grieve our son, then we will be willing/able to share our story so that our God will be glorified and Evan can save even more eternal lives."
In the initial Facebook post about the July 26 incident, Higgins wrote that Evan fell into a pool and was unresponsive when he was taken out of the pool. CPR was performed and that a heartbeat was established and he was then transferred to HSHS St. John's pediatric intensive care unit in Springfield. He was pronounced dead two days later.
Bears Coach and Player of the Week winners are invited to attend the Bears vs. Chiefs game on Dec. 22 and receive a framed certificate signed by Bears head coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.