Written by: Matt Johnson for Sask Sport
Photo Credit: CBC Sports
With a booming social media profile, Saskatchewanian Devin Heroux has emerged as a prominent sports journalist in Canada with CBC in Toronto.
His next stop? Covering the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo beginning in July as one of only a few members of CBC’s team to be on the ground in Japan. It will be Heroux’s second Olympic and Paralympic experience after covering the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang.
The experience is something Heroux doesn’t take for granted.
“You have an idea of what it’s going to be in your mind, and then you show up there and I’ll never forget walking there and seeing the rings for the first time,” recalled Heroux, who also covered the Raptors NBA title in 2019. “And they’re everywhere and it was spellbinding to see the spectacle of the Games. To be able to attend it, it gives me goosebumps still thinking about that.”
Born and raised in Saskatoon, Heroux studied at both the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina before carving out his niche within the Canadian sports media landscape – covering curling. Most recently, Heroux and fellow CBC journalist and former Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Colleen Jones created an online curling show throughout the duration of the 2021 Scotties, Brier and Mixed Double championships. His roots began covering local sports in the province including colour commentary for the Saskatoon Blades and University national championships.
“I’ve been a lucky man,” said Heroux. “Everything has been serendipitous and whether it was with The Sheaf or with Saskatoon Blades radio or the Saskatoon StarPhoenix or the Bangkok Post or CBC Sports, it’s been incredible.”
As a young sports fan, he quickly gravitated to the greatness of Sandra Schmirler’s gold medal performance in women’s curling at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.
“I grew up always wanting to attend one, and of course, that was never going to happen as an athlete,” said Heroux of his Olympic and curling love. “But I was captivated by Sandra Schmirler and her team at the 1998 Olympics. From that point on the games were always this larger-than-life thing for me.”
Heroux’s connection to Schmirler speaks to his prairie roots and passion for Saskatchewan.
“Wherever I go on the world stage, I’ve always been proud of being from Saskatchewan. There’s something about the psyche of what it means to be from our Prairie province, because I think we know that it’s always us against the world. We’re this unassuming place in the middle of Canada.“
One storyline Heroux will be covering closely at the games is the women’s basketball team, who is currently ranked fourth in the world. The team has a prairie tie of its own in head coach Lisa Thomaidis, who also serves as the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team.
“Lisa has put so much into this program and into this team, no question,” he said. “She’s going to have them ready to go there in a draw that isn’t going to be easy. They’ll give their best, like they always do and that’ll be a fun story to watch.”
Thomaidis and the women’s basketball team are only one podium threat for Canada at the Games. Brooke Henderson, Bianca Andreescu, Kylie Masse, Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck and Maggie MacNeil, Saskatchewan’s-own Shelby Newkirk, as well as the women’s soccer and softball teams are all athletes and teams Heroux is expecting to be covering closely during his time in Tokyo.
“It’s going to be a Games dominated by Canadian women,” said Heroux. “I think the Canadian athletes are going to be ready for whatever sort of challenges they run up against.”
Speaking of challenges, Heroux realizes this will be an Olympic and Paralympic Games to cover like no other.
“There are always storylines. Whether it be the venues being ready or security issues or whatever else is going on outside of the games. It’s going to be all pandemic, all COVID-19 related, and it is not going to look like the Games that people have come to learn in their mind. And so, for journalists, you know, that’s going to be a little daunting, but I think I’m going to be equal to the task.”
Heroux isn’t the only voice covering the Games who will be familiar to those from Saskatchewan. CTV Regina’s Claire Hanna has been named the play-by-play commentator for beach volleyball at the Games.