Caroline Heeter ('97)

If there’s anyone who knows Oakcrest athletics, it’s Caroline Heeter (‘97). From being a student athlete to serving as Oakcrest’s Athletic Director since 2005, Caroline has been deeply involved in the tremendous growth of the Oakcrest athletics program over the years. 

Caroline’s passion for athletics started with swimming at the age of five. From that early age, she swam for her local swim team until she was eighteen. She then served as an assistant coach for the team every summer during college and taught swim lessons for many years. 

Caroline started Oakcrest as a freshman and played soccer, basketball and softball for  Oakcrest.  (At that time, Oakcrest was located at the Yuma campus in Washington, DC and did not yet have a swim team.)  After graduating from Oakcrest, she attended the University of Dallas, where she received a B.A. in History and a minor in Spanish. “I always knew I was going to work with kids...I thought maybe I’d be a teacher,” she says. As she prepared to graduate from college, Caroline realized she wanted her career to incorporate both her love of sports and her love for teaching children. She immediately saw the potential for pursuing these passions by getting involved in the athletics program at Oakcrest. After a year of teaching kindergarten and coaching CYO basketball at St. John’s Catholic School in McLean, she joined Oakcrest as a PE teacher and coach in the fall of 2002. 

In addition to teaching PE, Caroline coached Oakcrest soccer, basketball, and softball. In 2005, Caroline was promoted to Athletic Director, where she continues to serve today. Under her steady leadership, the Oakcrest athletics program increased its sports offerings to include swimming, lacrosse, and golf, and added middle school, JV and Varsity levels to various sports. Last year, she welcomed Sarah Robertson as Assistant Athletic Director. Caroline also continued her own professional development and education, earning an M.S. in Athletic Administration from Ohio University and her certification as an Athletic Administrator from the NIAAA (National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association).  

Caroline has enjoyed seeing the many exciting ways that Oakcrest sports have changed and expanded over the years. “One exciting thing is all the opportunities we have for the girls because of the faculty we’ve had here who are interested in coaching,” Caroline explains. “Part of the reason we’ve been able to add lacrosse is because of Michele Bulger, our registrar, who has been a lifelong lacrosse player and coach. Annie Smith helped us add golf... It has been deeply supported by the faculty we have here. And since moving to our permanent campus, the new soccer field and softball field let us have a home atmosphere, which was missing when I was an athlete at Oakcrest. To be able to say ‘Yes, we have a home field...to be able have a double header here for homecoming or senior night...that’s awesome.” 

Although the pandemic has presented plenty of difficulties for playing sports, that hasn’t stopped the Chargers. Caroline has had to modify plans and be flexible and creative, but she’s enjoyed the challenge. “This year has played to one of my strengths, which is that I don’t really believe in obstacles, so it’s just constant change and figuring out, ‘Ok, how do I make that work,’ and what can we do to still provide the best opportunities for our students given the restrictions,” she says. One example of this type of flexibility has been Oakcrest’s intramural program for Middle School soccer and basketball. Although students haven’t been able to play other schools because so few other schools are offering middle school sports, they’ve still had the chance to hone their skills and play through intramural competition. “We just finished intramural basketball for Middle School, and it was a lot of fun,” says Caroline. “We had our semifinal game, we had the championship game, and the girls were really excited and felt like they learned something and had some competition.” 

Looking back at the impact Oakcrest had on her, Caroline notes that many relationships she formed while she was an Oakie are still strong. She still talks to a lot of her classmates and has been excited to see some of them sending their daughters to Oakcrest—her niece has started at Oakcrest in sixth grade this year. Of the faculty, she remembers math teacher Ms. Walsh (Walsh Hall’s namesake) very fondly, saying “I definitely learned to love math because of her.” She has many good memories too of Dr. Edwina Maksym, her philosophy teacher and mentor. “Dr. Maksym always made you want to rise to her challenge of being that person who does things well,” Caroline notes. She loved how students not only learned a lot from their teachers in the classroom, but also had fun with them and developed real, deep relationships with them.
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