Ucluelet’s Heather Morrison has finished her impressive high school wrestling career on a high note and is leaving the sport behind to pursue a career in midwifery.
Morrison followed three older siblings into coach Mike Rhode’s wrestling program at Ucluelet Secondary School and when practices start next season, Rhodes will be without a Morrison for the first time in his 17 years of coaching at the school.
“He’s coached a Morrison for the last 17 years; that’s a really long time to be so dedicated to the sport. I really want to say a huge thank you to Mr. Rhodes,” Morrison told the Westerly News.
She said watching her siblings enjoy the sport got her excited about it but her passion for it kept her in.
“It definitely made me want to try wrestling, but it’s not what held me in wrestling. Once I started, I really grew to love the sport and it became such a huge part of my life,” she said.
Morrison will graduate this year and had initially planned to attend Simon Fraser University and join the wrestling team there, but a surprise acceptance letter from Mount Royal University in Calgary nixed that plan.
“I got into the midwifery program at Mount Royal and that’s where I’m going to be next year,” she said.
“I wasn’t really expecting to get in. It’s pretty uncommon for someone straight out of high school to be accepted to the midwifery program, so I was really, really, excited about that. I’ve wanted to be a midwife for a really long time, since Grade 7, so to get to do that next year is amazing.”
Mount Royal doesn’t have a wrestling team but, Morrison said, she’s comfortable putting the sport in her rearview mirror.
“It’s still pretty surreal. Every year the wrestling season ends and then the next year it starts again, so I think it’s not really going to hit me that there isn’t another season until I’m hitting November and I’m not starting wrestling practices,” she said.
“I love wrestling; it’s been a huge part of my life for the last seven years…but, I think, in a lot of ways I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life. Midwifery is something I’ve been focused on for a really, really, long time so to have the opportunity to start working my way towards having that career as a midwife is something that I’m really excited about.”
She said her final season as a USS Warrior was one of her best, not just because she wrapped it up with a fourth place finish at the recent national championships—the best result of her career—but because of the support and comradery she received from her teammates.
“It was incredible. We were so lucky this year to have such an amazing team. We fit together really well and we were definitely a unit. We spent a lot of time with each other we supported each other and worked really hard, and really well, together,” she said. “I was really happy to have the group of people that I had with me for my last year.”
She said the team’s supportive atmosphere helped push her to new heights and new successes.
“Whenever you’re training in practice and working hard, it’s really important to have people there supporting you and pushing you and helping you to get better,” she said.
“As a team, we train together and we teach each other and at the tournaments and competitions we’re there to support each other and, sometimes, that’s what you need. Sometimes you need to hear the voices on the side of the mat cheering you on; so it’s really important to have a team that gets along well and can give each other emotional support as well as good training partners.”
Morrison said the recent National High School Wrestling Championships in Calgary gave her a chance to say goodbye to the many friends she’s made through the sport over the years.
“There’s lots of people from across British Columbia that I’ve made friends with, just from seeing them at tournaments, so having the opportunity to see them one last time was really great,” she said. “I felt that I wrestled well. I finished on a pretty high note so that was really good.”
She added Majestic Ocean Kayaking provided vital support by sponsoring her trip to Calgary.
“That was huge,” she said. “To have a contribution from a business in the community to help make it more affordable for me to go to nationals was really, really, big and I want to say a big thank you to them.”