Multi-sport star Heffernan
has eyes on the prize
By Ian Van Den Hurk
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
“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
“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.