Heppner went from high school to junior hockey before attending St. John's.
Brady Heppner - Sophomore hockey player at St. John’s University
CHS Class of 2014
Played two years of junior hockey with the Minnesota Magicians in the North American Hockey League
Major - Global Business Leadership, Exercise Science Minor
Career Hopes - Athletic Director or Hockey Coach
Other CHS Sports - Football and Golf
How did you decide to play junior hockey?
I knew growing up that I loved hockey and wanted to pursue it as long as I could. After my senior year I went to a high school showcase in the cities and was lucky enough to sign with the Minnesota Magicians and played with them for two years. It was tough because all my buddies were going to college and here I was going to play hockey and not thinking about my education. But I don’t regret it at all and I’m thankful for it.
How did you decide to make the switch to college hockey?
The goal of junior hockey is to get a Division I scholarship. That didn’t work out for me, but I ended up going to St. John’s. I talked to the coach for a while during my second year of juniors. Then, I visited and really loved it so I decided to go there.
What other schools were you considering?
I had a couple of Division I looks out east and then I had a lot of schools in Minnesota contacting me. It was the education and being close to home for me. I was close to going DI, but I decided to go with the education aspect and St. John’s rather than trying to walk-on at a DI school.
What was your biggest accomplishment in high school sports?
Making it to the state golf tournament as an individual my junior year.
What is your biggest accomplishment in sports after high school?
Scoring my first hat trick in juniors. It was in Minot and I scored two in the first and the game-winner in the second. That was pretty cool.
Who was your favorite coach in high school?
How did Coach Bittner help you with your game in high school and what is something he did or said that has stuck with you?
He was really about building character off the ice. He was about being a good person. He taught me a lot about being on the ice as well, but being a good person whenever you can is something I’ve tried to stay with.
What did you notice as a big difference between playing in high school and after high school?
The physical play. In high school, I could get away with not being as physical. When I was in juniors, they’re throwing bodies all over. So I really had to adapt to that. Also, you’re playing to win every game. In high school, if you don’t win, you go home and everything is okay. If you don’t win in college, you might not be playing the next day or not even be on the team.
What surprised you at your first college practice?
The maturity of everybody. When you get to college, some seniors are 25-years-old.
What is your daily routine when in season?
It’s usually go to class for three to four hours a day, go to the rink and skate for a few hours and then work out after that. Then I come back, eat, go the library for a couple hours and go to bed.
What is your trick to keep up with classwork and stay consistent in your game?
Lots of coffee and not sleeping a ton. But mainly making sure I get all my work done so I can focus on hockey. Time management is huge and I try to manage my time well.
Does playing a sport help you manage your time?
I think it has. I’m always looking at my planner to make sure I have things planned out perfectly. If I wasn’t playing, I might be slacking off a little more. I wouldn’t be as focused.
What do you miss about playing in Crookston?
The school camaraderie, going to school every day with my best friends and going to the rink with them. When you’re playing games, your buddies are in the stands watching in the student section. I miss that a lot. I’m still close with Connor Morgan who is an assistant at the high school and I try to keep in touch with my old teammates.
How has playing collegiately helped you prepare for life after school and sports?
By being on a team, I’ve learned how to work on a team and build values like leadership. All the values I’ve learned from playing sports my whole life have helped me grow as a person.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about playing a sport in college?
I’d definitely tell them to do it. You make your best friends on the team. If they’re scared they aren’t going to have time for other things, there is time. It’s something you’ll love and I don’t think anyone would regret it.
Did you try and recruit your brother, Brock, to play there?
A little bit. He’s really smart and might try to be an engineer. He’s pretty good at golf as well so I’m not sure what his plans are.
How do you plan to stay around the game when you are out of college?
I really want to stay around the game by being a coach at any level preferably at high school or junior level.
When your college career comes to an end, do you think you'll be mentally ready?
My dream has always been to play professional hockey either in Europe or America and I believe this is still achievable coming from Saint John’s as one my teammates from this past year is playing in the East Coast Hockey League. It will be tough to adapt once my playing career is over for sure, but I believe staying around the game as a coach will help immensely.