Athletics seems to be in David Heller’s genes. The UMW senior joked that he started playing soccer “probably right about when I could start walking.”
Heller’s mother starred in volleyball; his father ran track and played football and basketball. His brother plays lacrosse, and his sister plays field hockey.
Beginning young in a family of athletes helped secure Heller a frequent starting defensive position as a UMW freshman. Last spring, as a junior, he earned the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award, a title traditionally reserved for a senior. Heller is only the second junior to have received the honor since UMW established it in 1990.
The award recognizes varsity upperclassmen who excel academically and athletically. To earn the honor, student athletes must keep a minimum Star Defender Here to Learn 3.3 cumulative grade-point average and contribute greatly to the success of their teams.
Heller’s soccer coach, Jason Kilby, said Heller won the award because of his strong athleticism and high GPA.
“He’s very well-rounded,” Kilby said.
Soccer is inherent and comfortable for Heller, but he came to UMW without a guaranteed spot on a team that already had established junior and senior defenders.
Coaches warned Heller that he might not see a lot of playing time. But by the end of his freshman season, he had started 85 percent of the games. And he felt good starting among upperclassmen.
“I wouldn’t really say I’m the nervous type,” he said. “Soccer is soccer. A lot of other people were bigger and faster than me, but there are ways around that.”
Though Heller is a defender, he still manages to score winning goals – as he did in last year’s double overtime semifinal game against Salisbury University. The win advanced the Eagles to the championship.
Heller strives for excellence in the classroom and on the field, Coach Kilby said. “He’s a great role model for all of our student athletes at UMW.”
The senior from Alexandria, Va., double majors in business and computer information systems, and he is pursuing a minor in economics. Still, he maintains a 3.5 GPA and tutors classmates in all three of his subjects.
Over the summer, Heller worked as an intern with Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C.; the residential mortgage entity offered him a job after graduation.
Heller’s approach to school is simple and focused. Rule one – pay attention in class.
“I really don’t like to waste my time,” Heller said. “I’m here to learn.”