If you look up the word winner in a dictionary Shannon Higgins-Cirovski might be one of the definitions.
Higgins-Cirovski could be defined as a person possessing every quality of a winner. Those qualities include the desire to be victorious, the will to achieve, the ambition to accomplish, the wish to be successful and the ability to triumph over every obstacle in one's path.
Higgins-Cirovski, though, is much more than just a definition. She is the epitome of someone who strives to be a winner in every facet of his or her life.
In the fall of 2002, Higgins-Cirovski was recognized as the ultimate winner as she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., on October 14, 2002. She was just the third woman and is the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The former head coach of the U.S. U-18 women's team and former head coach at George Washington University, Higgins-Cirovski was named head coach of the Maryland women's soccer program on Jan. 13, 1999. She joined her husband, Sasho, on the Maryland athletic staff. Sasho Cirovski has been the men's soccer coach since 1993.
She turned in her finest coaching job in 2004. With a roster depleted due to various injuries, she guided the Terps to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Of Maryland's nine victories, three were over Top 10 teams, including a 1-0 upset over No. 2 seed Penn State in State College, Pa., snapping the Nittany Lions' 39-game home winning streak.
Higgins-Cirovski guided the Terps to a 11-8-2 record in 2003 and another berth in the NCAA tournament. Along the way, Maryland defeated four teams ranked in the Top 25.
The year of 2002 was a storybook one for Higgins-Cirovski. She gave birth to her third daughter, Ellie Summer; won her 100th career game as a coach at Rutgers on Sept. 6; was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame; and was named the ACC Coach of the Year for the second time in four years. Overall, it was Higgins-Cirovski's fourth conference coach of the year honor in her 11 seasons as a head coach.
On the field, Maryland posted a 13-8-1 record, for its most wins since 1996. The total also equalled Higgins-Cirovski's single-season win mark as a coach, originally set in her final year at George Washington (13-6-2 in 1997).
The Terps advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in eight years -- three of those under Higgins-Cirovski. Maryland defeated American in the first round and fell to eventual College Cup Semifinalist Penn State in the second round in a rain-soaked contest.
The Terps had their first-ever positive result against the storied North Carolina women's soccer program -- which Higgins-Cirovski helped build. Maryland tied UNC, 1-1 on Nov. 1. In tying the No. 2 Heels, the Terps also picked up their best-ever result against a team ranked in the top two in the nation.
Maryland racked up numerous individual honors under the coach. Mallory Mahar was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Freshman of the Year by Soccer Buzz as well as a Freshman All-American. Katie Ludwig was named to the All-ACC first team while Mahar and Kimmy Francis made the second team as freshmen.
Higgins-Cirovski's appointment five years ago created immediate impact for the Terrapins as she coached Maryland to its highest finish in ACC history, second place, with a conference record of 4-2-1 in 1999. She coached Maryland to eight wins in its final 11 games and the Terps advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
Maryland put up a valiant fight in the second round of the tournament against Penn State, but lost to the eventual 1999 College Cup semifinalist, 3-2.
She coached All-ACC first teamer and honorable mention All-American Emily Janss and Mid-Atlantic first-team performer Jackie Mynarski. Higgins-Cirovski built a team around a tough, hard-nosed defense led by Mid-Atlantic All-Freshman Team members Lindsay Givens and Carly Viher.
In 2000, Higgins-Cirovski brought in one of the nation's top recruiting classes including Baltimore Sun Player of the Year Jen Biscoe and Washington Post Player of the Year Audra Poulin.
She led Maryland to its first-ever win over a Top-5 team as Maryland upset No. 4 Penn State, 3-1, on Aug. 29, 2000. After the win, the Terps soared to No. 9 in the NSCAA coaches' poll, their highest ranking since 1997.
In 2001, Higgins-Cirovski led the Terps back to the NCAA Women's Soccer College Cup. Maryland finished 10-7-2 behind the solid defense of All-ACC selections Lindsay Givens at back and Ali Wolff at goalkeeper. Both players were also named to the NSCAA All Mid-Atlantic Region teams, along with leading-scorer midfielder Jen Biscoe.
She continues to build Maryland into a national power in a conference in which she is generally regarded as one of the pioneers of the women's game in the United States. At the end of 1999, she was named to Soccer America's Team of the Century, as one of the top 11 players to have impacted women's soccer in the 1900s. She was also honored by the ACC as one of the conference's all-time top players.
In 2002, she was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary Team of the 50 greatest players in conference history.
Cirovski played on four NCAA championship teams at the University of North Carolina, was the consensus national college Player of the Year in 1989, and helped lead the U.S. to the 1991 World Cup title.
Cirovski, 34, served as head coach at George Washington from 1991-97, leading the Colonials to their only NCAA Tournament appearance (1996) in school history. She was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 1994 when she led the Colonials to a 12-8-0 record. One year later, she led George Washington to the Atlantic-10 West Division title. She is the winningest women's soccer coach in school history, posting a seven-year mark of 69-59-11.
She was inducted in the George Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame in February 2003.
A 1990 graduate of North Carolina, the former Shannon Higgins helped lead the Tar Heels to four NCAA titles as a player and a cumulative record of 89-0-6 from 1986-89. A two-time first-team All-American, she was named national Player of the Year by Soccer America magazine in 1988 and 1989 and consensus national Player of the Year in 1989.
Higgins-Cirovski was the 1989 recipient of the prestigious Hermann Award as the nation's top Division I women's soccer player. In addition, she won the Honda-Broderick award as the top female athlete in the nation, also in 1989.
She pulled off the remarkable feat of scoring the game-winning goals in the 1987, 1988 and 1989 NCAA championship matches. She ended her career at UNC tied for first in career assists (51), fifth in scoring (129 points) and seventh in goals (39). She is one of nine women's soccer players in UNC history to have her jersey number (3) retired by the university.
She continued her playing career at the international level, representing the United States in competition 51 times. She assisted on both of the U.S. team's goals in a 2-1 win over Norway in the 1991 World Cup final, this country's first world soccer title. She retired as a player following the `91 World Cup. Higgins-Cirovski was honored by FIFA two summers ago, along with the entire 1991 world champion U.S. women's team, at halftime of the 1999 World Cup championship game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Higgins-Cirovski served as head coach of the U.S. Under-18 women's national team in 1998, with responsibilities to identify, select and train the top U-18 female players in the U.S., while also serving as an assistant on the women's national team and the women's U-20 team. The U-18 team was undefeated during her time as head coach. Over the last 10 years, Higgins-Cirovski has been the director of her own soccer camp.
Higgins-Cirovski holds a U.S. Soccer "A" coaching license, and from 1994-98 served as the director of the Maryland State Girls Olympic Development Program in addition to her duties as a Region I staff coach. She is also a clinician for the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention.
She is a 1990 graduate of North Carolina with a bachelor of arts degree in industrial relations.
In the summer of 2001, she served as a color commentator for the WUSA's Washingtom Freedom in television broadcasts aired on Comcast SportsNet.
Shannon Danise Higgins-Cirovski was born on Feb. 20, 1968 and grew up in Kent, Washington.
The Cirovskis have three daughters, Hailey (10), Karli (8) and Ellie (2).