Jeff Heller is co-captain of the Newtown High swim team.
He hopes to study physics at Cornell University.
Jeff Heller swims, runs and climbs mountains, but his eyes are
focused beyond terra firma. He has his eyes set on the furthest
reaches of outer space.
"I’m hoping to be accepted at Cornell and major in physics,”
Heller said. "I’m fascinated by black holes and gravity. I would
really like to study the subject.”
Before Heller transports himself beyond the Milky Way, he has
several more mundane and worldly activities to occupy his time, such
as races to swim and run for Newtown High.
Heller is co-captain of the Newtown swim team. The Nighthawks
were 2-3 this season going into last Tuesday’s meet with Weston
Heller swims the 100- and 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter
butterfly for the Nighthawks. He has posted several good times in
his races including a very respectable 55.9 in the 100-free, and
1:06 in the 100-fly.
The Newtown swimming team has had several distractions in the
past year. First it was the shock of learning popular Greg Chion had
cancer. Then, after being told he was getting well and would be
back, the greater shock of walking into school to a host of crying
"I walked into the school and everybody was crying,” Heller said.
"I didn’t understand why. I had seen him a few weeks earlier and he
looked good. We always heard he would be back. It was a real setback
to us all.”
Another setback that turned around for the swim team was the
resignation last spring of coach Brian Reiff to pursue other
interests. Later, Reiff reconsidered and decided to return to the
team for one more season, to give the school’s athletic director
time to find a replacement.
But despite the distractions, Heller and his co-captains, Kane
Kunst, Lauren Bass and Matt Fries have managed to keep the program
on an even keel, and poised for the future.
Apart from school, Heller keeps himself busy as a member of
Explorer Post 70. It is the Newtown area post.
He is a Life Scout.
"There are three kinds of Explorer Posts,” he said. There are the
Sea Scouts, posts that specialize in police work and our kind, a
high adventure post. We go camping and learn survival skills, first
aid, and personal fitness. We also get involved with life-saving
techniques and leadership skills.”
Heller is quartermaster for the troop and its junior assistant
"I’ve been in scouting for several years,” Heller said. "I’ve
learned many skills, in and out of scouting.
"In 1998, 11 of us went to a high adventure camp in Philmont,
N.M. We did it to have fun, but it was a great learning experience.”
Although the camp is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, its
program synchronizes well with Heller’s scouting activities.
"We would hike all day and then camp out. While we were encamped,
we would do things like black-powder shooting, explore an old mine,
do some blacksmithing and rock-climbing and rappeling.”
Still, when asked who his idol is, he departs from the concrete
world of sports and answers, "Einstein, because he was a physicist
and discovered the theory of relativity.”
Heller took his first class in classical physics last year, and
found it so much to his liking that he wants to become a physicist.
"I don’t know the proper name of the branch of physics, but I am
definitely interested in black holes and gravity.”