Balancing life on the gridiron with life as a medical professional


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photos courtesy of the Kalinowksi family.
Wally Kalinowski the football player.

Heidelberg University football lineman Wally Kalinowski knows what it is like to deliver pain, but as a registered nurse, he also knows how to treat and offer relief from pain.

“I played offensive line in high school, specifically left guard,” said Kalinowski, a 2019 graduate of Canal Winchester High School who also played basketball and threw shot-put and discus on the track and field team. “I was in the National Honor Society, team captain of the football team my senior year and the homecoming king. I was in the journalism club and my senior year helped new journalism students in Justin Natalies class who is, in fact, the greatest teacher at Canal Winchester High School.”

Kalinowski graduated high school with honors and a 4.0 grade point average 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 balancing act, Kalinowski said it has been difficult.

Wally Kalinowski the medical professional.

“Time management is the key to being able to do all of this and anything you set your mind to in life,” said Kalinowski. “Our coaching staff is phenomenal and they always preach that school comes first. They have always been so understanding about my schooling and understand that it comes first to myself and football is second.”

Kalinowski said he enjoys being busy and is always on the go, so managing football and school is something he did throughout high school. However, he admitted the routine is a little more difficult in college.

“It was all worth it,” said Kalinowski. “Football was my escape from all of that, I can just be myself and not worry about anything else going on in my life. It has turned me into the young man I am today.”

As a collegiate-level player, Kalinowski said he loved every second of the experience, from gut wrenching losses and triumphant wins to hard practices/workouts.

“At Heidelberg, it is one of the few places where our entire team is so close and it is truly a family,” said Kalinowski, who was named First team Ohio Athletic Conference and an Academic All-OAC athlete. “I love every single one of my teammates and coaches and I will forever. The biggest difference between high school and college football is the independence. Our staff relies on us to be responsible young men and we are supposed to do everything the right way. College football is an electric atmosphere no matter what the level is and I recommend every young player to take the opportunity if it is gifted to them. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Heidelberg football.”

Now a registered nurse, Kalinowski’s class load is less and he only works 25 hours a week during football season. Kalinowski, who wears number 68 and is an offensive linesman on the Heidelberg team, said the toughest 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 Kalinowski, who wants to further his education as a pediatric nurse practitioner or go to medical school. “I have always wanted to pursue a job in the medical field and I was unsure which path I should take. My cousin is a PICU nurse and he helped influence me a lot to determine which route to go. I have always been fond of helping other people and putting others first before myself and nursing was perfect for those values. It is a very rewarding profession and I am proud to do so. I want to specialize in pediatrics because I have always loved working with kids and see how they grow and develop.”

When it comes to cheering on his son, Walter Kalinowski freely admits to being a proud father. He is not surprised at his son’s accomplishments.

“My wife and I are so proud of Wally and the choices he is making,” said Walter, who added his son’s peers thought enough of him to name him as a captain of the Heidelberg team. “He has always been very analytical in his decision making and once he commits to something, he is all in. His passion for medicine is special as is his passion for playing football. I love this passion he brings to life every single day. Wally is a hard working compassionate, inclusive young man who loves his momma and treats everyone with respect. I’ve learned so much from my son.”


  1. Congratulations to Wally on his life choices and success. And to his dad, Walter, the pride is overwhelming, isn’t? Good job!

    Justin Natalie’s dad, Jim.


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