Written by Linda Dillman
Wally Kalinowski, a staff member on the football team at the University of Heidelberg, knows what it is like to feel pain, but as a registered nurse, he also knows how to treat and relieve pain.
“I played offensive line in high school, specifically the left guard,” said Kalinowski, a 2019 graduate of Canal Winchester High School who also played basketball, shot put and discus on the track and field team. “I was in the National Honor Society, the captain of my senior year soccer team and the homecoming king. I was in the press club and my senior year helped freshmen journalism students with Justin Natales’ class who is, in fact, the greatest teacher at Canal Winchester High School.”
Kalinofsky graduated from high school with honors and a 4.0 GPA before entering Heidelberg and focusing on earning a degree in nursing and balancing his time between classes, football practices, games and work.
When asked how he navigates such a complex balance, Kalinovsky said it was challenging.
“Time management is key to being able to do all of this and anything you put your mind to in life,” Kalinovsky said. “Our coaching staff is exceptional and they always preach that school comes first. They always understand my studies and understand that it comes first for me and football is second.”
Kalinovsky said he enjoys being busy and always on the go, so running football and school is something he did throughout high school. However, he admitted that the routine is more difficult in college.
“It was all worth it,” Kalinovsky said. “Football was my escape from it all, I can just be myself and not worry about anything else going on in my life. It turned me into the young man I am today.”
As a college player, Kalinovsky said he loved every second of the experience, from the painful losses and victorious wins to the challenging practices/drills.
“In Heidelberg, it’s one of the few places where our entire team is so close and it’s really family,” said Kalinowski, who was named Ohio’s first athletic conference and an academic athlete by the OAC. “I love every one of my teammates and coaches and will forever do. The biggest difference between high school and college football is independence. Our people depend on us to be responsible young people and are supposed to do everything the right way. College football is an electric atmosphere regardless Regardless of the level and I recommend every young player to take the opportunity if it is talented to them. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Heidelberg ball.”
Now a registered nurse, Kalinovsky’s semester load decreases and he only works 25 hours a week during football season. Kalinovsky, who wears No. 68 and is an assistant striker for Heidelberg, said the hardest thing was adjusting to the night shift at work, but he loves his job.
“If you love something, you will do anything to make it work,” said Kalinovsky, who wants to further his education as a pediatric nurse practitioner or go to medical school. “I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field and wasn’t sure which path to take. My cousin is a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit and helped influence me a lot to decide which path to go. I’ve always been fond of helping others and putting others in line. The first before myself, and nursing was perfect for those values. It’s a very rewarding profession and I’m proud of that. I want to major in pediatrics because I’ve always loved working with children and seeing how they grow and develop.”
When it comes to encouraging his son, Walter Kalinovsky freely admits that he is a proud father. He was not surprised by his son’s achievements.
“My wife and I are very proud of Wally and the choices he makes,” said Walter, who added that his son’s peers had thought of him enough to name him as captain of Team Heidelberg. “He has always been very analytical in his decisions and once he sticks to something, it is all in him. His passion for medicine is special and so is his passion for playing football. I love that passion he brings to life every day. Wally is a hard working, compassionate and inclusive young man who loves his mother and treats everyone with respect .I learned a lot from my son.”