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Home-schooled cross country athlete preparing for national finals
John Higinbotham
Home school student John Higinbotham crosses the finish line at the Foot Locker cross country south regionals and qualifies for the national final. Submitted Photo.

COVINGTON, Ga. - John Higinbotham is a home-schooled student in Covington that has amazingly found his way on the national stage as he has qualified for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals.

Higinbotham has had an uncharacteristic journey to get to this point as a home-schooled athlete, but after his qualifying performance at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship (FLCCC) South Regionals, he believes this is the ending he has strived for throughout his cross country career. 

“The top ten go to the national meet, so I was constantly counting the people in front of me because this was a main goal of mine throughout the year,” Higinbotham said. “I’ve qualified for some other big races, but nothing quite like this. This is really like the culmination of all my work with cross-country over the years.”

Being a home-schooled athlete means that Higinbotham is really his own team and does not have teammates that he trains with every day, which having to run alone is one of the main challenges Higinbotham noted. He has trained with different coaches over the years, but has most recently trained with the Atlanta Track Club, which he credits with helping him reach this goal.

“So I train with the Atlanta Track Club about an hour every Tuesday and Friday at Piedmont Park, and it has been a fantastic experience,” said Higinbotham. “My coaches are Andrew and Amy Begley, and Amy Begley was an olympian (2008 Beijing Olympics). It’s been so cool to be in practice with athletes who are just so much more incredibly faster than me.”

Many of the members in the Atlanta Track Club are mostly professional runners, but due to Higinbotham’s amateur status, he cannot be paid, but as mentioned above believes running with these exceptional athletes has upped his game. 

Getting to the national finals was Higinbotham’s goal at the beginning of the year, and since he has achieved that, he said he looks forward to just putting it all on the line and racing hard one last time for high school.

Having achieved all of his goals for his senior season, Higinbotham had plenty of people to thank for helping him get to this point in his athletic career. 

“I mean, of course, my parents (Joby and Sarah Higinbotham). They are both very busy people and have challenging jobs, so for them to put that work into me has been a really special experience, and they’ve really challenged me to be the best person I can be,” Higinbotham said. “My former coach Bryce Hattori was the one coach that coached me for years and was really more of a mentor than a coach, and he actually got me in touch with Atlanta Track Club. Now, these coaches (Andrew and Amy Begley) are helping me so much.”

Higinbotham’s cross-country career will not end with this national final as he is committed to run at Georgia Tech in the future. At one of the finest institutions in the state of Georgia, Higinbotham is the true definition of a student-athlete as he places great emphasis on his academic studies.

While at Georgia Tech, Higinbotham plans to study Biology with an emphasis in Genetics. Higinbotham will definitely be one to watch both athletically and academically at the next level as he should make an impact in these fields.