March 30, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 94  

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SPORTS

Multi-sport star Heffernan has eyes on the prize

By Ian Van Den Hurk
Gazette Staff


Dave Picard/Gazette
EAT YOUR HEART OUT BO JACKSON AND DEION SANDERS. Western football and track and field star, and former Atlanta Braves prospect, Christian Heffernan, betters former multi-sport stars by mastering three different sports.

Swift. Explosive. Dynamic. These are the words often bandied in Christian Heffernan’s direction.

He arrived on the Western athletics scene three years ago, though Heffernan had already collected more than his fair share of accomplishments. The London native left Canada when he was just 18 years old to play baseball for the Atlanta Braves single A team. Though it wasn’t short on thrills, Heffernan admits it was difficult for him to be so far away from family and friends while travelling across the United States at such a young age.

Three years later, the Braves released Heffernan. Realizing his baseball dream was over, he returned to London seeking a degree. Now, at 26, Heffernan has one year remaining at Western.

Though baseball may have been Heffernan’s first sport, it was certainly not his last. During his tenure at Western, he has excelled on both the track and football fields. He believes his success across all sports is a result of his incredible speed, but Heffernan quickly dismisses his physical attributes, focusing instead on his hard work and determination.

“I don’t consider myself to be a supernatural athlete. I’ve never been like [Western football star] Andy Fantuz. He’s a natural talent,” Heffernan says. “But I bring hard work and heart. I’ve always been able to motivate myself to put the time in — never cut myself short.”

Heffernan’s busy schedule allows only two weeks off the entire year, but his efforts have paid big dividends. His 4x400 metre track team shattered former Canadian Interuniversity Sport records, while earning a handful of championships.

Track and field coach Vickie Croley had plenty of praise for Heffernan.

“He brings an amazing work ethic [to the track team],” Croley says. “He has shown tremendous hard work and heart in every competition he’s been in. He is a respectful, insightful leader, with great perspective, driven by his competitiveness.”

What’s next for Heffernan? Though he holds high interests in teaching and coaching in the future, he also has aspirations to play in the Canadian Football League. This would stand as an incredible accomplishment for Heffernan, considering he did not even play high school football.

Despite this fact, he was voted captain of Western’s football squad last season.

“[Being selected team captain] is a huge honour,” Heffernan says. “To have my teammates vote me in, I respect that. Am I the best player on the team? No. But with energy, hard work and leadership — it means a lot to be the captain.”

Western football coach Larry Haylor doesn’t doubt Heffernan will get the chance to make it at the professional level, citing the obvious — scouts cannot overlook his blazing speed.

“He’s a great deep threat. There are not many people who can run with him, so speed does capture the attention of people,” Haylor says. “He’s certainly a weapon for us that we’ve been able to make good use of. He brings that explosive speed threat to the offense.”

Haylor was quick to point out that Heffernan, though he has improved greatly, is still somewhat raw and thus, has yet to reach his athletic peak.

“He’s going to get the opportunity [to play professional football],” Haylor says. “When you run like Christian and have his physical strength and toughness, the pros are very interested in having a look at him at the next level. He’s progressing in a way where if he keeps that curve upward, the [Canadian Football League] is a distinct possibility for him.”

Heffernan is excited about the prospects of getting paid to play a game.

“I’d love to get a chance to play in the CFL. One thing I loved about pro baseball was that you were getting paid to play a game you love. Being paid to play a sport is pretty special.”

Swift. Explosive. Dynamic. One thing about Heffernan’s future is certain. Wherever he ends up, he’ll get there fast.

 

 

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