Heidi Peters battles body image issues to excel on and off court

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 09, 2023

Sitting volleyball leader finds confidence in Para sport


TORONTO – Today Heidi Peter disseminates confidence and leadership as one of the key veterans of Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team, which she has helped build from a fledging outfit to second place at the most recent world championships.

Before she joined the sitting team, Peters was an avid volleyball player for Barrhead Composite High School in Barrhead, Alta. However those years were not easy. She admitted she battled body image issues especially as she compared herself to teammates.

“I was literally a size and a half, maybe two sizes bigger than my teammates,” recalled Peters, 29. “I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I had lot of body dysmorphia and felt uncomfortable in the way I looked.”

Peters is currently in Cairo with her teammates for a Paralympic Games qualifying tournament set for November 11-18.

Her world and her body changed dramatically in grade 12 when she was diagnosed with cancer which eventually led to a leg amputation.

“When I lost my leg due to bone cancer, that’s what people were focused on,” Peters said. “They weren’t focused on my size anymore. So those issues went away a little bit.”

Of course, it wasn’t easy becoming a young woman with a disability. However, being involved in sport and being more mature put the focus elsewhere.

“It took a while to be comfortable acquiring a disability at a young age,” she said. ‘’At 18, I got involved in sitting volleyball and was part of a group of women, female athletes, playing sport again, all with different bodies, with different life experiences.”

Since joining the sitting volleyball program Peters has found her confidence on and off the court. She has a diploma in photographic technology from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and a diploma in travel from Macewan University.

Peters is currently studying political science for her undergrad with the hope of completing a master’s in policy studies. She is deeply passionate about sport and the policy that surrounds it. In 2022, she was elected to the World ParaVolley Athletes’ Commission.

“I’m not afraid to use my voice,” said Peters, also a portrait photographer for over a decade. “I’m naturally interested in politics and policy and how things work. Policy can be pretty dry but it’s literally how we function and affects everything we do.”

Whether you look at the progress of the women’s sitting volleyball team or her resume, it appears the one-time self-conscious student from Neerlandia, Alta. is on her way to the top.

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