Humans of Hillsdale is an ongoing series spotlighting Hillsdale College student-athletes, spotlighting the people behind the uniforms.
First in the series is Charger swimmer Katherine Heeres
WORDS: Calli Townsend
PHOTO: Carmen Botha
Class of 2021 | Women's Swimming | Holland, Michigan
Katherine Heeres has been swimming half of her life, but it wasn't until the beginning of her junior year of high school did she realize she could further her career. She now holds the 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke records and was a part of the record-breaking 400m medley relay team at Hillsdale College.
But when asked about some of her most proud accomplishments, she would say earning a spot on the Dean's List during her freshman year. Her academic career means a lot to her, not only because of her love for learning, but because of her many goals and future plans.
After graduating from Hillsdale and moving on to medical school, Katherine plans to work with children with various cancers and blood disorders as a pediatric hematologist and oncologist. She says she has known for a long time that she wants to be a doctor, and after job shadowing doctors in various settings, the appointments with children were the most fun.
"Bedside manner is so different between kids and adults. You deal with them very differently," she said. "Kids have an optimism that I really appreciate. They're going to have a smile which is valuable to remember because as hard as it gets, we all need to remember to smile."
Being that kind of encouragement and support to a child suffering through these kinds of trials is what motivates Katherine.
"One of my favorite things is listening to people talk through their hard stuff," she said. "Like in swimming, if someone has a bad race, I like to let people just cry on my shoulder if they don't want to talk about it, and that for me has built some really important relationships in my life."
This was exactly how Katherine and her teammate Catherine Voisin became such good friends. It was after Catherine was disqualified at the beginning of her race, Katherine met her halfway, across the pool deck, offering comfort and a listening ear.
"I think we're all too ready to talk and hear our own voices," she said. "I really want to just be the person who is willing to listen to others and help them through their hard times."
Between family who has instilled these values within her and the many lessons swimming has taught her, Katherine has a positive outlook on helping suffering children. She says often times people focus too much on the end goal of helping a child that they forget about the little goals along the way.
Katherine places great importance on the little things, such as chatting with the kids, asking about their days and genuinely caring about the things they do. She says her parents taught her from a young age to lead from whatever position she is in, and this is just one way she feels she can accomplish that.
"Being conscious your leadership positions and the little things can be so impactful," she said. "And the little things are even more special to kids."