In the above photo, Jonathan Alder’s Daniel Heinig heaves the shot put during the 2019 Division II state track and field meet at The Ohio State University. In the bottom photo, Heinig scores a basket during the 2019-20 basketball campaign. A shoulder injury limited the senior’s hoop campaign, while the coronavirus wiped out his final JA track and field season. (Journal-Tribune photos by Tim Miller)
Daniel Heinig’s senior sports seasons at Jonathan Alder High School didn’t go like he would have hoped.
His final year of basketball was limited to just a handful of games due to a shoulder injury.
The 2020 track and field campaign was then wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
Heinig was a strong member of both Pioneer programs during his high school career.
He played in 41 of the varsity hoop team’s 48 games during his sophomore and junior seasons, averaging three points and a like number of rebounds per game.
Heinig also placed seventh in the shot put with a heave of 52-7.5 during the 2019 Division II state track and field meet at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Things were looking upbeat as Heinig was preparing for his senior year.
A shoulder injury during an off-season basketball camp, however, nearly put a complete halt to his senior campaign.
“I had swatted the ball away on a block and was coming down to the floor,” said Heinig during a telephone interview with the Journal-Tribune. “It was really a freak accident as I collided with someone and my shoulder was displaced from the socket.”
Heinig tore his labrum, but considers himself fortunate.
“There wasn’t any problem with the rotator cuff,” he said. “If there had been, I would have really been in trouble.”
Heinig underwent surgery last summer with the expectation that a full recovery would take five or six months.
He soon began physical therapy with some light free weights and an elastic band.
“I really wasn’t able to do anything explosive until basketball season was over,” he said.
Heinig said it was difficult to miss most of his final basketball season as the Pioneers claimed Division II district runner-up accolades.
“I helped as much as I could,” he said. “I’d scout opponents by watching films and helped my teammates work through drills as much as I could.
“We had a good team presence and the guys and the coaching staff were very supportive of me.”
Heinig was cleared to play the latter half of the regular season and into the tournament.
He averaged two points and a little more than a rebound per game in limited action.
Heinig was really looking forward to the 2020 track and field season.
“I was throwing very well during our earlier practice sessions before everything was shut down by the virus,” he said. “I was throwing the shot 57-3, which was a huge jump from what I did at last year’s state meet.
“That surprised me after I had undergone surgery,” said Heinig. “I was very pleased with what I was doing this spring.”
Heinig’s goal going into the season was to climb the state meet ladder.
“I really felt I could have placed first or second,” he said. “My ultimate goal was to win the state in the shot put.”
Heinig recently completed on-line classes during his final year at Jonathan Alder.
Now, he is concentrating on getting in shape for his collegiate track and field career.
He will become a member of the squad at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I had looked at Cedarville University, Hillsdale College, Yale and the United States Military Academy,” said Heinig. “I looked very seriously at Yale before deciding on Indiana Wesleyan.”
He ruled out Army in the early going.
“I have a lot of respect for people in the military,” he said. “However, it just wasn’t my thing.”
Heinig said he chose Indiana Wesleyan for a handful of reasons.
“First of all were the academics,” he said. “Secondly, it was for athletics and third, it was spiritually.
“It was very important to choose a school that would challenge me spiritually and help me grow as a person,” he said.
Heinig is undecided on his course of study, but is leaning toward biological sciences.
In the meantime, he’s working to stay in peak physical condition.
“I’ve been going on daily runs and have been working out in my basement,” he said. “I’ve also been throwing the shot put and discus a few times each week.”
Heinig will have to get used to a heavier shot put and discus.
High school athletes use a 12-pound shot put, while the weight climbs to 16 pounds for the collegiate level.
“So far, I’ve been throwing the 16-pound shot between 51 and 52 feet,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with that.
“A high school discus weighs 1.6 kilograms (three pounds, nine ounces),” said Heinig. “A college discus weighs two kilograms (slightly more than 4.4 pounds).
“I haven’t been able to get a bigger discus yet, but there really isn’t that much of a difference between the two.”
Heinig said missing his senior season of track and field has been difficult.
“I was super-bummed when I learned it was canceled, especially since my final basketball season was rough,” he said.
Heinig is, however, taking things in stride.
“I’ve just been talking to friends,” said the easy-going, 6-4, 280-pound athlete. “I’ve also been enjoying making camp fires and playing my banjo.”
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