We would like to recognize Heather Perrin, Manager of Athletic Therapy and Medical Services here at Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) in Penticton, BC. Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8th, Heather is someone who has experienced many defining moments throughout her career and personal life. As a sports professional, wife & new mother, Heather embraces every opportunity that comes her way. Her determination and passion toward all areas of her life are some of the few qualities that make Heather standout in the best way possible. She is who she is today because of sport and all that it has given back to her. She is recognized for her strength, guiding her through as a successful female professional within the male dominated industry of sport.
Heather completed her Bachelor of Science majoring in Kinesiology at the University of Lethbridge and her Advanced Certificate of Athletic Therapy at Mount Royal College. This was a major milestone for Heather, as this designation was proof that her hard work paid off; opening many new doors and exciting adventures.
In 2014, Heather began working for Okanagan Hockey Group, though she has been contracted out numerous times throughout her time with us; building on her qualifications and expanding her experiences. To name a few, Heather has worked as a Mentor Therapist at a Strength and Conditioning Camp in Hamilton, Ontario, as well as at an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Development Camp in Vierumäki, Finland. She has also worked as a Team Therapist with the National Women’s Team for the World Championships in Malmö, Sweden in 2015, and Plymouth Michigan, USA in 2017 bringing home Silver for Canada both years.
Heather’s sense of adventure along with her passion toward sport, has given her the opportunity to travel all over the world. This has played a big role in her career thus far, allowing her to live out her Olympic dream with Team Canada as Head Therapist of the National women’s hockey team in 2018. “One day back in 2010, I received an invite to attend boot camp with Hockey Canada which was a huge surprise! The phone call was out of nowhere, and the excitement was surreal,” declares Heather. “After 8 years and various camps & events, I was selected to represent Canada in Pyeongchang, South Korea as Head Therapist for the Olympic Winter Games— something I had worked for my whole career.”
As an Athletic Therapist at OHA, Heather works collaboratively with our Strength and Conditioning team to create programming that is preventative of injuries. This is a crucial part of Heathers job, along with treating injuries; whenever they do occur, through assessments and rehabilitation. “I love how dynamic my role is” states Heather, when asked what her favourite part about her job is. “It is intertwined with so many pieces of daily operations, and I am fortunate to manage an incredible team. It is incredibly rewarding making a difference for our athletes each day; helping them through the process, and eventually getting them back to their sport.”
Athletic Therapy is an extremely rewarding job, and for Heather, this became even more apparent on the night of opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang. As a member of support staff, she was not able to walk during opening ceremonies. This was disheartening for the entire team, however an athlete that had gotten hurt prior to the Olympic Games made sure that Heather was aware of the impact that she had made—helping her return to the game. This athlete said to Heather “I am walking tonight because of you”, a heartening moment that brought tears to her eyes.
The Olympics was a breakthrough that Heather is extremely proud of as it helped her grow in a variety of ways. “The Olympic dream became a reality… an attainable goal which I was so proud to have accomplished as a female.” She becomes emotional when reminiscing on her Olympic experiences, “I was part of a team who became my family. The close relationships built in an Olympic year is very hard to explain, but I can most definitely say that I have made many lifelong friendships,” says Heather. “I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to so many high achieving people in my life so far, and this is inspiring. These people are always striving for something more and bringing a gold medal attitude. Being in an environment with so many of these kinds of people is very special and extremely motivating.”
Heathers dreams have come true in a number of other ways since wrapping up the Olympics in 2018. Her and her husband Andrew welcomed their daughter, Georgia, in the fall of 2019. As a new mom, Heather is navigating her new roles and responsibilities and establishing her new identity. “My world has changed as I now view everything through the eyes of a mom. How I view the world and approach certain things is so different now,” mentions Heather.
Becoming a mom has given Heather a whole new perspective on life. “Everything that I do now impacts what I do for Georgia. I used to be gone for months at a time, and now my responsibilities have shifted,” Heather states. Adapting her job to being a working mom; raising her own child, while also ‘raising’ our student athletes within the academy has been a huge adjustment. “I was always defined by my career for as long as I can remember— now I feel as though I am reinventing my lifestyle after having a baby, which now changes how I self-identify,” Heather says.
Although shifting roles has not been the easiest transition, Heather still remains incredibly passionate about her career. “I’m afraid of monotony and settling scares me. I am always seeking experiences that will help me grow,” comments Heather.
As career driven as Heather is, it has not always been an easy road to get to where she is today. Overcoming adversity time and time again has sparked fire in her soul. She is passionate about leveling the playing field for women in sport in all areas of the game. She continues to break down barriers so that the upcoming generation of young females, like her daughter Georgia, can live in a world of gender equality and inclusion. “Dream big and just go for it. Don’t let anyone define what your limitations are” she says, when referring to various experiences of judgement and discrimination. “Nobody is going to put you first, but you, and if you work hard enough, someone will see how hard you work regardless of your gender.”
When reminiscing on many memories, Heather expresses how unbelievably proud she is to be a certified Athletic Therapist here at Okanagan Hockey Group. She is a crucial member of our family here at OHA Penticton, and her determination is something that many people find inspiring. She is passionate, she is fierce, and she will never let anything stand in her way. Heather has a story to tell and a voice that needs to be heard. She is not afraid to ‘fight like a girl’, helping to embrace females in the sporting community, and empower them to chase their dreams.
Written by: Michayla Fraser (BSM)
Choosing Okanagan Hockey Academy was one of the best decisions I have made for my development. The relationships I built with my teammates, coaches, and staff are bonds that will last a lifetime. The structure of the program on and off the ice prepared me to play junior hockey.