Alumna Plays Professional Soccer in Scotland
After graduating in the fall of 2018 with a degree in psychology, Siobhan Higgins moved 4,600 miles away to Edinburgh, Scotland to live out her dream of playing professional soccer. Higgins plays for Hibernian Ladies FC, a football club located in the Leith area and that plays in the Scottish Premiership, the top tier of the Scottish Professional Football League.
During her time at UST, Higgins helped lead the lady Celts to a Red River Athletic Conference Championship and racked up a total of 21 goals scored over 24 games in two seasons. She maintained a spot on the Honor Roll and earned a spot on RRAC First Team All-Conference.
What is your favorite memory at UST?
My favorite memory at University of St. Thomas was winning the conference championship finals in Texarkana in 2017. It was the first time we had done that in a four-year program and it was great to be a part of that [success].
How did UST prepare you to be a professional athlete?
UST helped me become a professional athlete, from the staff helping me create relationships, my classes having a diverse course load as a liberal arts university, and then soccer and discipline.
What did your journey to professional soccer look like?
My journey was a really good experience. I was in Scotland for four and a half months, and I learned a lot about myself as a player and as an individual. It’s an experience that i don’t regret, and I wish I could do again.
I chose Scotland because I was born in Scotland. I have dual nationality in America and in Scotland and my ultimate goal is to play for the Scottish women’s national team. I was trying to find a team in Scotland so I could be seen by the national team. Over the summer I played for a WPSL team called TTI and my coach was from Manchester where he coached the U-16 Manchester City girls. He had a connection to a team in Scotland and he just asked, “are you interested in playing in Scotland?”, I said “Yes I am, this is perfect.” I got in touch with the coach, we coordinated things and it just fell right into place. I was able to go.
What is the difference between professional and college soccer?
Playing college soccer versus playing professional is very different. I think my experience differs from a lot of other girls because I went to Scotland and not a different country. In Scotland the sport is still developing, and I would say that in America collegiate sports are taken very seriously. I noticed a lot of differences such as standards or discipline in fitness. At the University of St. Thomas, we really stress discipline and fitness and that was a big difference for me in that there wasn't as much discipline or fitness in Scotland.
What was your first professional goal like?
For Hibs I play forward, anywhere from the left to the right to striker in the middle. My first goal, it's a bit embarrassing, but it was kind of a fluke. It was from a corner and I would say it was pretty ugly — someone headed it and the ball is kind of muffled around in the penalty area. In the video it looks like I ducked because it comes from behind me and I just stuck my leg out, got a foot on it and it trickled into the goal as slow as possible.
What was it like playing in the Champions League?
Playing in the Champions League was a really great experience. I was lucky enough to play in Prague and in Slovenia for the qualifying rounds. That was really professional and I would say that I was like a little kid on Christmas day. Getting to see the media, you are on TV, your parents can watch you from across the world, and you get all sorts of cool gear. It was really cool. It was not something I ever dreamed of doing,, but I'm so grateful for that [opportunity].
What does it mean to play professionally?
I think I realized this when I was 20 years old — what it takes to be a professional is just keeping your mindset and saying that it is possible to do it. I think that anyone can do it if you put your mind to it. It's not about how good you are, but how hard you work. If you look around you can see so many people playing professionally, and you think “Wow, I played with that person, if they can do it I can do it.” That's what always kept me going.
What is your off-season like?
Since I got back to the US, I have been training with a personal trainer. He is an American ex-football player at Texas Tech. I have been training there four times a week. It is a lot of speed, agility and lifting so I am getting back into physical shape that way. Then, soccer-wise, I am going to be joining a local team so I can get more touches on the ball that way.
What does balance look like as a professional soccer player?
In University obviously you have to balance academic, social life and soccer, but playing professionally I am finding that I only have to balance social life and soccer. I am lucky that I don't have to work so surprisingly I am finding that I have a lot of downtime. I can do what I want and it is not hard to balance that at all. I find myself being able to sleep in for once because training is at night so I get long hours of sleep. If you treat it as a job, training is your job and it is easy to balance.
What motivates you to keep improving?
My motivation iis from not having a starting position this season. My goal is to start and play as many games as possible and for me that wasn’t happening, so I'm going to do whatever i can to get that position.
This is a written transcript of an interview taken by UST Athletics with alumna Siobhan Higgins.