Baseball Canada is pleased to introduce Shaped by Our Game, a new initiative on baseball.ca that will profile people who have used our sport to achieve success later in life. Baseball is a sport that provides great life lessons and teaches skills that are applicable for future success in life whether on the baseball field or not.
In our second Shaped by Our Game installment, we profile Isabelle Higgins of Laval, Québec. Isabelle was a member of the original Women’s National Team from 2004 and is now a Police Officer with the Montréal Police Service.
The Isabelle Higgins file:
Hometown: Laval, Québec
Growing up mainly on the fastball diamond, Isabelle Higgins jumped at the opportunity to try her hand on the baseball field when invitations were sent out to interested fastball players to tryout for the first-ever Women’s National Baseball Team.
“I made the first cut and was invited to the final camp at the Olympic Stadium in Montréal,” said Higgins. “It was exciting for me because I grew up watching the Expos.
“At the same time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because I was 35 years old, but going up against girls that were a lot younger than me.”
To Higgins’ surprise she made the cut and went down in history as being a member of the very first Baseball Canada Women’s National Team. Soon after she was off to Japan for a training camp before the team travelled back to Canada to participate in the inaugural IBAF Women’s Baseball World Cup in Edmonton.
“2004 was the (best) year for me as a player,” explained Higgins. “To be so lucky to go to Japan and then come back home to Edmonton (for the World Cup) and win bronze in front of our home fans is something I’ll never forget. That was my moment for me in baseball.”
Although Higgins’ playing career was brief with Baseball Canada, she did continue on with the Women’s National Team program as a coach in 2007 and in 2008 winning a silver medal at the Women’s World Cup in Japan.
“Although you’re not playing in the games anymore, you still need to work as a team with the players you’re coaching and the other members of the coaching staff,” she said. “Coaching was a different experience, but the lessons learned were just as important for me.”
The relationships that she made through her experiences with the National Team are ones that are still kept today.
“I always follow the Women’s National Teams’ progress,” said Higgins. “I keep in touch with (WNT Manager) André (Lachance) about the team. I do my best to keep track with some of my former teammates as well.”
“I’m hoping that the team has a big year next year with the Pan Am Games coming up.”
Career as Police Officer
From the time Higgins enrolled at CEGEP Ahuntsic it was clear that she wanted to become a police office.
“I started my (police) career in 1991 so it’s almost been 25 years (with the service),” she said.
Her policing career has taken her through many different areas of the profession and has also opened doors to experiences that have taken her to different places in the world.
“I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti on two occasions and work with the United Nations,” she explained. “It was interesting because after I came back from the World Cup in Japan in 2008, I went straight to Haiti for eight months.”
Her experience in baseball and working with a team helped her in Haiti as she transitioned from working with a group of athletes to working with different police officers from all over the world.
“As in sports, even though you might not agree with someone on your team, you need a find a way to work with that person to try and accomplish a goal,” she said. “I relied on the skills that I learned from playing baseball and team work to help me with experiences in Haiti.
“There’s a really strong link between team work in sports and team work in policing so I’m fortunate to apply those skills to my current job.”
Baseball also gave Higgins the opportunity to travel the world and in turn afford her the tools to deal with the “culture shock” associated with traveling to a foreign country.
“I remember (in 2004) going to Japan for the first time and being exposed to a different culture. Looking back that experience helped me in Haiti dealing with living in a new country and getting used to your new surroundings.”
There are many other lessons and skills that baseball has taught Higgins, ones that she still uses today and can apply to her career as a police officer. Here she lists three that impacts her job on a daily basis.
“In baseball and in policing you have no choice but to work as a team if you want to achieve success. You may not always get along with you teammates, but you need to find a way to work with them.”
“I think attitude is one of the biggest factors in peoples success. In baseball, I was often captain of my team or a leader because of the attitude that I showed. I always tried to be respectful of my teammates, coaches, umpires and opponents. This outlook has helped me with my career and helped me earn respect from my colleagues.
“One of my former coaches really helped instill this in me saying that your attitude is your responsibility. Nobody is responsible for it but yourself. Once you have the right attitude you will prepare correctly and you will be respected by others.”
“I always tried to pride myself on having a good work ethic and I think my attitude had a lot to do with that. I try to apply this to my everyday police work and my experience in baseball really helped put me on that path.”