VFLW player Kendra Heil has become a vital cog both on and off the field at Essendon, taking up a new role as student experience coordinator of the Essendon Education Academy (EEA).

Taking the road less travelled, Kendra Heil, better known as ‘Kenny’, has always been eager to explore new territories.

Having uprooted from her home country of Canada, Heil moved to Australia to chase her dream of playing AFL - a move sparked through playing for the Hamilton Wildcats in the AFL Ontario league. In the nine years since her move, Heil has experienced the highs and lows of footy since beginning her AFLW career at Collingwood.

“As soon as I heard word of the AFLW becoming reality I made it my goal to get drafted,” Heil said.

“Unfortunately, I tore my ACL before the draft. I was lucky enough to still get picked up by Collingwood despite this, but three days after returning to training I tore my ACL again.”

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Though this period was tough and one of the hardest for Heil, it never soured her spirit for the game.

In 2017, Heil moved across to Essendon to join its newly founded VFLW team. Like many state level athletes, she juggled her profession as a painter with the vigorous commitment of football. Some of her paintings can be seen around the club, bringing life and colour to many of the walls inside the NEC Hangar.

Fifty consecutive games later, Heil is a senior member in an undefeated Essendon side that is due to play in their first ever VFLW Grand Final.

Through her time at the club, Heil has become a leader and mentor to younger players. With a plethora of life experience alongside a passion to help others reach their potential, mentoring has become a prominent part of Heil’s life.

Essendon wasted no time in approaching Heil for the role of student experience coordinator - a role that has seen her begin to transfer these on-field leadership qualities off-field for the EEA.

“I was eager to be able to continue my journey mentoring outside of just VFLW,” Heil said.

“Having had such a rewarding experience so far at Essendon, the opportunity to be able to help others share this experience really stood out to me.

“I look forward to helping grow the program going forward and help all students involved get the most out of their time with us.”

The EEA offers young individuals the opportunity to take multiple pathways that blend RMIT-accredited diplomas with high-level placement opportunities at Essendon’s home, the NEC Hangar.

Heil will be serving as a first point of contact for many students looking to join the program. Here she will be able to use her skills to maximum effect, mentoring and coordinating the Academy.

With a mid-year intake on the cards, the EEA will be welcoming all eager students eager to kickstart their careers in elite sport.