UNI Panthers

Jessica Heims still moving fast in preparation for Parapan American Games

Former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep would compete in Peru this August

Jessica Heims (right) and her longtime coach, retired Jefferson coach Bill Calloway, are getting ready for another international competition. (Submitted photo)
Jessica Heims (right) and her longtime coach, retired Jefferson coach Bill Calloway, are getting ready for another international competition. (Submitted photo)

Whether it be in life goals or track, Jessica Heims hasn’t slowed down one bit.

The former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep and current University of Northern Iowa track and field athlete is preparing for the 2019 Parapan American Games in Peru this August. She has to qualify first, but she’s predicted to place well in the discus, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

“I have my eyes set on discus,” Heims said. “That’s sort of been my main event for the last few years.”

Heims, a paralympic athlete for Team USA, is stationed at UNI for the summer to train with her college teammates and coaches. She also continues to train with retired Cedar Rapids Jefferson track and field coach Bill Calloway.

“I’m surrounded by a bunch of amazing coaches, and it’s fantastic,” Heims said. “You can’t help but be happy and full of energy when you’re around them.”

Calloway, a coach Heims met through “a friend of a friend of a friend,” has been there since the beginning of her success.

“He’s humble, and he has a wealth of knowledge and passion for the sport,” Heims said.

Anything is possible with such a strong team by her side. Heims competed for Team USA in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and she has plans to continue competing at the international level.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“My long term goal will be the 2020 Tokyo Games, but that’s a long time from now. It’s much easier to focus on the now,” Heims said.

According to her coaches, she’s attacking the now with positivity and an unmatched drive.

“She’s a world-class athlete,” Calloway said. “They’re a different kind of animal. At the high level she wants to be at, from a coaching standpoint, motivation is not a factor.”

Although she will train with a narrow focus with her sprinting and throwing coaches all summer, Heims still sees the bigger picture. For her, traveling is not only about sports, it’s about opening her eyes to the world around her.

“I get to see a lot of situations I normally wouldn’t,” Heims said. “In my job field, I need to have an ability to see perspectives and deal with adverse circumstances.”

She’s already had her fair share of adverse circumstances. Heims had her lower right leg and foot amputated before she was a year old, but it hasn’t changed her outlook.

“The sky’s the limit with the attitude that she has,” Calloway said. “She’s truly one in a million out of people, athletes and whatever she does.”

Calloway praised Heims’ family for being a positive force in her life.

“I can’t give (my family) enough credit,” Heims said. “I’ve gone through my good times and failures with them. I would not be where I am today without their support.”

Coming off three gold medals at the Para Athletics Grand Prix in Italy, Heims has high hopes for the Parapan American Games in August and the Para Athletics World Championship in Dubai in November. From there, she’s going to do what she loves most until she can’t anymore.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“As long as God wants me to compete, I’ll compete,” Heims said. “I know life changes, but I’ll compete as long as I can.”

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.