Christian Heffernan has made his mark as a math teacher and varsity football, basketball and track coach since starting at Upper Canada College in 2011, but at Western University he’s now a Hall of Famer.
Heffernan was inducted into the London, Ont. university’s “W” Club Hall of Fame as part of Western’s 2015 homecoming events. The “W” Club recognizes people who’ve made outstanding contributions to Western’s athletics program as players, coaches or administrators, and Heffernan was joined by three other men who now also have plaques honouring their achievements placed on the wall of Alumni Hall.
“I grew up in London so I saw the plaques on the wall and I knew some of the faces and the names when I was a kid, so when I started at Western I thought it would be pretty cool to get there,” said Heffernan. “It’s a huge honour and it’s starting to set in now after being told about it at the beginning of the summer.
“It’s a good way to wrap up everything at Western. My (playing) career’s over and this is a good exclamation mark on my career.”
Heffernan is being inducted into the “W” Club in his first year of eligibility for consideration, which shouldn’t be surprising considering his athletic accomplishments at Western.
The six-foot-three, 200-pounder played professional baseball for three years in the Atlanta Braves farm system before deciding to enroll at Western. He’d never played organized football before, but he made the team as a freshman. In his second season he led the squad in receiving, in his third he was an Ontario University Athletics second team all-star, and In his final year he was named a team captain.
Heffernan was also a seven-time All Canadian track star at Western. He anchored the 4×400-metre relay team that broke the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) record and won the CIS national title three years in a row. He also won a CIS silver medal four times in the 4×200-metre relay.
Heffernan was named Western’s athlete of the year and went on to play two years for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League before he returned to Western to get his teaching degree. He helped coach the university’s football team during that time, but his UCC responsibilities now limit what he can contribute.
“In track and football, I try and help with some recruiting if we have kids who I believe would be good candidates to play or run at Western,” said Heffernan, who wants to get more involved with the university’s alumni support system now that he’s had a steady teaching job at UCC for four years and has saved some money.
“Alumni support is critical. We had decent support when I started and when I ended it was a lot better. It makes it that much easier for the athlete when you don’t have to buy your own shoes or if you have a meal waiting for you at your locker following a three-hour practice and then you have to go watch film for two more hours.”