ECFF – Vice-PRESIDENT
Gary Heapy is a native and life-long resident of the Fort Walton Beach area. He attended Elliott Point Elementary, Meigs Middle, and Choctawhatchee High Schools. He grew up swimming, sailing and fishing in the waters of Choctawhatchee Bay, Cinco & Garnier’s Bayou, and the Gulf of Mexico. He started swimming at the “old YMCA” as a 12-year-old as a member of the “PLAY” Swim Team and continued with that program through high school. He was a state-qualifying swimmer at Choctaw and a four-year letterman on the swim team at Georgia Tech, where he graduated with a degree in Management Science in 1986.
Gary returned home from college and started working with his parents’ floorcovering business, then called Carpet “Low” Down. He has remained with that business and become a part-owner and general manager. The store is now called “The Flooring Authority” and is located on Mary Esther Cutoff.
Gary and his wife, Kathi, who were married in 1988 after meeting each other while volunteering as coaches for the Choctaw Swim Team, live in Shalimar and have three children. Their son is also a graduate of Georgia Tech, and one daughter is a senior at Auburn University, while the younger daughter is a sophomore at Choctawhatchee High School.
During college, Gary volunteered with the YMCA’s “Hi-Y” and Blue Ridge youth leadership programs. He then helped with the Choctaw Swim team, and in the mid-90’s found himself on the YMCA Board of Managers. Over an almost 20-year span, he served in a variety of offices on that Board.
When their son joined the Meigs Middle School swim team in 2005, Gary and Kathi volunteered as coaches. The following year, they were hired on, and they have continued to coach the team since then. This upcoming season will be their eleventh season with Meigs. Gary has also served as a “Sunshine Math” volunteer at Shalimar Elementary and a soccer coach for P.A.S.A. For the past eight years or so, he has helped as a youth ministry leader for the Total Youth Ministry at St. Mary’s Church. This has included chaperoning several trips and campouts. Gary and Kathi were also head chaperones for the Choctaw Style Marchers for two years, and have served as head chaperones for the Meigs Middle School band for the past three years.
Gary is a consummate sports fan, but swimming is his passion. His children started with the YMCA swim team in about 2002 and since he is pretty much incapable of just sitting and watching anything, he became a swimming official. Over the past eight years or so, he has become a very good USA Swimming Official, achieving Meet Referee certification and the N-2 National-level certification. Gary is very proficient at running and officiating successful swim meets. He is very well-liked and respected by the other officials, as well as coaches, athletes and parents throughout the area. He is also a Masters swimmer and member of the Okaloosa Liquid Dragons Master’s team.