Story by Marianna Moore
Update: On July 18, Colin Higgins was named to the Canadian National Wheelchair Basketball Team, which will compete in the Parapanam Games, Aug. 23–Sept. 1, in Lima, Peru. Teams finishing in the top three will automatically qualify for the 2020 Summer Paralympics, held in Tokyo. Mizzou Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Coach Ron Lykins will coach the U.S. national team.Colin Higgins had always been a hockey player. But at age 22, he had an injury that severed his peroneal nerve, causing “drop foot,” a difficulty or inability to lift the front part of your foot, often causing it to drag when you walk.
Young and athletic, Higgins, from Rothesay, New Brunswick, in Canada, was at a loss. A friend of his mother’s introduced him to wheelchair basketball.
“Soon as I tried — fell in love with the sport. Felt like myself again,” Higgins says. “I’ve traveled around the world playing it, and it’s led me here to further my education.”
Higgins is a forward on the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team and prides himself on bringing energy and a defensive presence. He also gives a lot of credit to his coaches.
A sports management major in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Higgins also appreciates that Mizzou is well regarded not just for its wheelchair basketball program but also its academics. “It’s the best of both worlds,” he says.
“I chose to come to Mizzou because I know Ron Lykins is a world-class coach,” he says. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned from the coaching staff so far this year is that no detail is too small.”
Before his injury, Higgins had been dismissive of wheelchair basketball. Once he started playing, though, he quickly learned what he’d been missing.
“I fell in love with it,” he says. “It’s fast, it’s physical.”
Mizzou took fourth place in the 2019 National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, March 14–16, in Champaign, Illinois.
Higgins likes Mizzou’s chances moving forward.
“I’m not afraid to say, we expect to win a couple national championships,” he says.
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Student veteran Eric Rodriguez challenges himself through the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team.
Coach Ron Lykins inducted into National Wheelchair Basketball Association Hall of Fame