Faces of Milan

Dan Heikka

Dan Heikka
Coach of the Year, Swimming

Dan Heikka was born in Ann Arbor and graduated from Milan High School in 1992. He attended Eastern Michigan University on a swimming scholarship and graduated in 1997 with a BS in Microbiology and Chemistry. During his time there, he was honored to serve as captain of 19965-96 team and was honored as an Academic All American.  

Dan married his high school sweetheart Michelle in 1997.

Dan worked at the University of Michigan for one year as a research technician. He then moved to Washington DC and worked as a research associate in the Biochemistry Department and published two papers on Effects of Radioactive Labeling and progression through the Cell Cycle.  In fall of 2000, he and Michelle moved back to Milan and he entered the PhD program in Cell and Molecular Biology at the U of M.  Dan did his thesis work on the Regulation of Nitrogen Utilization and Gene Control.  He helped teach a class titled “HIV and other health crises.” He also started coaching swimming at a club in Saline and then at Willow Run High School. 

Dan realized doing research for a career was not something he wanted to do long term.  He left U of M with his masters rather than finishing his PhD and returned to EMU to obtain a teaching certificate. 

About that same time, Dan was asked to coach swim in Milan. He took over the Milan Varsity teams and Milan Swim Club in fall of 2004. He also subbed and coached until he was hired to teach science at Milan High School in fall of 2007. 

Dan has taught Anatomy and Physiology, AP Biology, freshmen and Honors Freshmen Biology, General Chemistry and Intro to AP Chemistry during his teaching career in Milan. Most of his instructional team has been teaching Freshmen Biology; a role which he loves.

“Coaching has allowed me to feed my competitive spirit, as well as work closely with kids and helping them reach their goals both in the pool and outside of it,” says Dan.

He believes that athletics is a great avenue to teach life lessons and mold young people. 

“I have worked with many great coaches and incredible athletes in my years in Milan.”

He keeps in touch with many of his former athletes and students and love nothing more than hearing what they are up to, and seeing how the are out working to change and better the world.

Dan lives in Milan with his wife Michelle and three children; Zachary (12), Virginia (9) and Stella (7). 

“They help keep me grounded and remind me everyday what a lucky man I am. I love the Milan Community and feel blessed to work in such a unique and supportive community.” 


During his tenure as Milan Swim Coach:

Academic Honors:

Team GPA's:

State Meet Finishes:

State Champions:

*Over 30 additional consideration times.

Monroe Evening News Swimmer of the Year: (14)

Ann Arbor News Swimmer of the Year

Monroe Evening News Coach of the Year (8):

Huron League Swim Coach of the Year (4) Award disbanded in 2011:

MISCA Zone 4 Coach of the Year: (2)

SMISL Swim Coach of the Year: (5):

Michigan High School Coaches Assoc. Coach the Year (1)

Annarbor.com Swim COY:


Photo Credit: Mary Kerkes

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