Dordt College News

Athletes lead on and off the track

June 23, 2014

As Dordt’s outdoor track and field season came to an end in May, so did the college careers of three highly successful competitors.

Seniors Tim Bierma, Christy Heidema, and Katie Bonnema have all had a significant impact on the Defender program.

Head Track Coach Craig Heynen worked with them for four years.

“For the level of success these athletes have achieved, they are genuinely humble athletes,” said Heynen. “I have never seen a hint of arrogance or pride.”

Bierma is a three-time All-American in track, holding the 1,000-meter indoor school record and the 1,500-meter outdoor school record.

“I have learned the value of persevering through a bad race or meet or even season, knowing that things can and will get better,” said Bierma. “One of the biggest things Dordt track has taught me is that my attitude is important, not only in track but in the rest of life.”

Greg Van Dyke, the cross country and assistant track coach, watched Bierma since his first days as a freshman cross country runner.

“Tim helped his teammates win races and break school records, and he helped them grow in their faith during their time at Dordt,” said Van Dyke.

“He really sets a tone for our entire team,” said Heynen.

Heidema specializes in the triple jump. She holds the school record in the event at both the indoor and outdoor levels. A meniscus tear during her freshman year could have jeopardized Heidema’s future as a track competitor.

“The doctor said he did not think continuing with jumping was a great idea,” recalled Heynen. “He and I soon realized that not jumping was not an option for Christy. She was determined to come back, and one year later she was an All-American in the outdoor triple jump.”

Overcoming major knee surgery helped Heidema develop a new outlook on her track career.

“The injuries were devastating, but they forced me to reconsider who I was apart from track and consider why I ran track,” said Heidema. “Overcoming these injuries allowed me to refocus on the joy of track and field.”

Bonnema is a highly-decorated middle-distance runner. She won a national championship in the 600-meter indoor race during her junior season and has earned All-American status a total of eight times between her indoor and outdoor careers.

“God has blessed me with the gift of running,” said Bonnema, who believes she should use that gift to not only inspire others through my running, but also to be an inspiration by her words and actions.

Heynen considers Bonnema one of the most talented “chasers” he has ever coached.

“I don’t think I have ever coached anyone who has come from behind to win as much as she has in the 4x400,” said Heynen. “When she anchors the 4x400, you know you always have a chance because she can just go after people.”

All three seniors are carrying their passions into life after college. Bierma plans to attend graduate school in Southeast Asia and looks to build relationships and share his faith with fellow students. Heidema intends to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Iowa. Bonnema has accepted a job as an elementary school teacher in Inwood, Iowa.

“It has been a tremendous honor for me to know and coach these three,” said Heynen. “They are tremendous people who are excellent athletes.”

Sam Ekstrom (’14)

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