Athlete of the Issue


Will Heffernan moves the puck up into the offensive zone. (Photo courtesy of Faith Zelinsky)

By Khalem Caldwell, Sports Editor

Balancing academics and athletics is something Will Heffernan has always had to do. Arriving home from hockey practice at 11 a.m. forces Heffernan to do most of his homework during car rides. Now, waking up at 5 a.m. for baseball practice is another challenge he must face.

Will Heffernan, Div. 951, is a multi-sport athlete who plays hockey as a defenseman in the fall and winter and plays baseball as a catcher in the spring.

Heffernan also just completed his travel hockey career with the Chicago Young Americans and his travel baseball career with Elite Baseball Training.

“Being a multi-sport athlete is tough,” Heffernan said. “You have to maintain a high skill level in two different sports. It is also very tough to balance your schedule including keeping good grades and getting enough sleep.”

In an interview with the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, Lane Tech hockey Head Coach Jason Newman told reporter Ross Forman that “Heffernan is a top-notch defender and is a vital component to the team’s success.”

According to Newman, he was happy that Heffernan joined the team for his final year of eligibility after concluding his travel hockey career. He also said Heffernan could have easily been chosen for the All-State Team. Heffernan is also known on the team for having the most accurate shot.

According to hockey Captain Zachary Sockol, Div. 969, Heffernan was a good teammate who fit in well with the team. Heffernan displayed that he was a lockdown player and contributed heavily to their defensive success. He could also move the puck well in the offensive zone, a skill most defenseman lack in hockey.

While playing with his new hockey team this season, Heffernan has experienced some funny moments along the way.

“We were playing our first game at Mcfetridge,” Sockol said. “Will got the puck, opened up for a slap shot and whiffed then fell to the ice. He was too embarrassed to get up right away.”

When the Hockey season ended in February Heffernan transitioned straight into baseball.

Heffernan was coming off a great junior year which saw him bat at a .364 average with 24 RBIs and 3 homeruns. He also recorded 175 putouts and a fielding percentage of .989 with only 2 errors.

He won the Lane Tech Baseball Player of the year award and received All-City honors representing Lane in the All-City game at UIC.

However, Heffernan has not touched the diamond at all this year. He was at practice when the bottom of his cleat got caught in the turf, resulting in a severe ankle sprain.

“I knew I would be missing the first part of the season,” Heffernan said. “It is hard to watch the games knowing I can’t play. I have all the trust in the world in my teammates and I know the sooner I get back the sooner I can help them out.”

While Heffernan isn’t able to play, his teammates, like Jack Hansen, Div. 967, still look to him to contribute to the teams overall success.

“Will has contributed to the team this year by being upbeat and positive through his injury,” Hansen said.  “Will has not had any negative attitudes, even though he is not able to play. He has kept players focused, energetic, and has kept our teammates honest.”

Despite being out right now, Will still has plenty of baseball left to play. He is currently committed to play baseball at Oberlin College in Ohio.

According to Heffernan, the Division III school offered good academics which was a priority over finding a good baseball team.

“Will is passionate and loves the game of baseball,” Hansen said. “His passion spreads to the rest of the team, impacting all of us positively. He has been a great teammate and has contributed to my growth and success greatly.”