Twins Heidi and Ezra Billings Striving to be Better Together at Northern Michigan University 

heidi billings ezra billings northern michigan nmu siblings twins brother sister
Photo Courtesy: Raymond Billings

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Despite taking different approaches to swimming, school, and to life in general, fraternal twins Heidi Billings and Ezra Billings push each other to be better. Now, they will get to continue their journey together as student-athletes at Northern Michigan University. 

When Heidi Billings was 10 years old, she was intense behind the blocks before her events, focused on her technique and visualizing her upcoming race.

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Heidi Billings and Ezra Billings were destined to be swimmers. Photo Courtesy: Raymond Billings

Her twin brother, Ezra Billings?

Goofing off with his friends, a hot dog from the concession stand in each hand. 

Several years later, the Billings twins still have different methods to race preparation and strategy. But they balance each other out, with Heidi being the driven one and Ezra keeping it fun and relaxed. 

Despite their varying approaches to their sport and to life in general, they will both call the same place home for the next four years: Northern Michigan University.

Next fall, the Billings will make the move from their hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, to Marquette, Michigan. While the twins agree going to college together was not absolutely necessary as they were navigating the recruiting process, they both know it will be comforting having a familiar face close by. 

“We figured it would be preferred to be at the same university, especially being out of state. Not only is it convenient, but I will also have a built-in friend nearby,” said Heidi.

heidi billings ezra billings northern michigan nmu siblings twins brother sister

Heidi Billings and Ezra Billings compete at a meet in Hawaii. Photo Courtesy: Raymond Billings

The Billings do their club swimming with Stingray Swim Team for Josh Gregory and are in their senior year at West Valley High School. Ezra is primarily a sprint freestyler while Heidi specializes in backstroke, and both talented swimmers will be valuable additions to the Wildcats’ programs.

“I chose NMU because it offers a strong program along with coaches and team members who I know will challenge me to be the best I can be in the sport of swimming,” Heidi said. “Northern Michigan has proven to have great success at the NCAA level, and I want to contribute to that.” 

“I feel like they can help me get to the next level in swimming,” agreed Ezra. “I talked with some of the swimmers, and I like their family-like relationship with each other.”

When the Billings join the Wildcats as members of the class of 2025, they will add to the family environment cultivated in Northern Michigan’s program – literally. Having a twin is a unique aspect to their college career that will only amplify their experience as student-athletes at NMU.

“I am very happy that they chose to go to the same school,” said Raymond Billings, the twins’ father. “I love how they can each have their own group of friends and do their own thing, while at the same time, they look out for each other.”

Under the leadership of head coach Heidi Voigt and associate head coach Matthew Williams, NMU finished third in the men’s team standings at the 2020 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. The women won their seventh title in program history, and the Wildcats were competing at the NCAA DII National Championships before the meet was halted by COVID-19.

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The twins are eager to continue their love of hiking, biking, and skiing in Michigan. Photo Courtesy: Raymond Billings / Shannon McCallum

“Coach Voigt and Coach Williams seem to have an approach to coaching that fits well with the mindsets and interests of both of the twins,” Raymond said. “NMU has the right combination of academics, athletics, friendship, and activities.”

Just as the two push each other in the pool, they also help one another excel in the classroom. Ezra, who loves finding algorithms to solve challenging puzzles, plans to major in computer science. Heidi is interested in studying biochemistry with a minor in nutrition.

NMU had the academic programs the twins were interested in and a smaller campus size in a college town. In searching for a college swim program, they were looking for a team where they could both contribute and be a good fit,” said their mother, Holly Billings. Heidi and Ezra have always done better together, in school and in swimming.”

While moving 3,000 miles away from home can be nerve-wracking, this big transition is less daunting for the Billings with their sibling by their side. The twins are excited for a new adventure together and the chance to explore all Michigan has to offer. 

“I love traveling and it will be great to see and live in another part of the country. I also love water and living near Lake Superior will be a great experience,” said Ezra. Heidi is looking forward to shorter winters.

Despite the things that make Heidi and Ezra unique as individuals, they will forever share a special bond. As they begin their next chapter at Northern Michigan, all that matters is that they are better together.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Kendall

    Fantastic choice you 2!!
    Coming from a Northern Michigan Alumni living in Kasilof! I was the only 13 time All-American that NMU ever had! Good luck to you both!!