NORTH BATTLEFORD — Female baseball players are a rarity on the diamonds in the province and across Canada. However, North Battleford’s Cst. Heather Healey has been selected for a Baseball Canada national training roster.
Women ball players in Saskatchewan are traditionally either involved in fastpitch or slo-pitch. Healey has developed a lifelong passion for baseball since she first began playing at five years old and would now be in her 21st season of competing.
The North Battleford resident’s career has included a history with the Baseball Canada National team, starting in the program in her early teens. She made the team that went to a World Cup in 2014 in Japan and continued on the roster in 2016 and 2017. Healey notes that the World Cup was every two years and now it is only every four years. Her career with the Baseball Canada National team has taken her all over the world.
Healey missed 2019 as she began her training for the RCMP but sealed a spot on the roster in 2019. COVID cancelled all games in 2020. Although Healey took part in training camp in 2021, she decided to step back the last two years as her career with the RCMP has her job focused. The Baseball Canada candidate also affirms that it is difficult to make time to have a career and quality of life and play a high-level sport.
The three- and four-week long Team Canada events can eat up a lot of vacation time and athletes often have to decide if they want to play sports or spend some downtime from work with their families.
Originally from Newfoundland, Healey joined the RCMP in 2018 and came to the Battlefords in September of 2021. Healey has made an impact in North Battleford as she was recognized for her heroic efforts in a North Battleford apartment fire in January of 2022.
Healey was part of a Baseball Canada national tournament in the senior women’s event in Halifax and was approached by Team Canada staff to see if she was interested in the national team again, to which she responded yes.
“Winter training, you kind of have to do it on your own. We have a strength and conditioning coach with the national team who sends out a program. Because everyone is across Canada and it is hard to get together and funding prohibits, we have to be self-disciplined to be in shape for the team. It is a big commitment,” adds Healey.
Growing up as a right-handed pitcher and relied on as a utility player also serving at shortstop and outfield, the national team has her on the roster as a pitcher. Healey is considered a veteran at only 26 years of age.
“My coworkers think it is super cool and are supportive. Women’s baseball isn’t overly popular but I feel with the new PWHL, everyone is finding out women are good at sports that were once deemed traditional men’s sport.”
If you ever watched the Meadow Lake Sox in the North Saskatchewan Baseball League, then you would have had the opportunity to see the only female in the league as Healey was part of their roster.
“There is a certain type of confidence you must possess to want to play a game you love with a bunch of men. Meadow Lake accepted me like any other teammate and I always had a positive reception with the league.”
While it is tough to balance shift work, and a busy, budding career, Healey says sports is her outlet and she plays hockey as well.
“If I make this roster, then I try out in Ottawa in July and they are only taking 40 players. If I secure a spot on this national team, I would compete at the World Cup in Thunder Bay, Ont. at the end of July.”
Healey will be joined by one other Saskatchewan woman on this national team training roster, Amy Johnson.