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All in the family Erica Herr, daughter of 1984 WHS grad, competes at U.S. Open
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Eric Herr still remembers winning the 1984 District Three boys basketball title at Warwick.
He still has fond memories of running for the Warriors’ track and cross country teams while growing up on Orange Street in Lititz.
His mother, Brenda, still lives in that same house, so the 1984 Warwick High School grad gets to re-visit those years from time to time.
These days, however, Herr resides in New Hope and is savoring the athletic accomplishments of his three children – Zachary, a soon-to-freshman at Vanderbilt University, and Erica and Madelein, who will be a senior and sophomore, respectively, at Council Rock North.
In golf circles, they need no introductions.
Zachary, listed at one point as the nation’s seventh-ranked junior boys golfer in the Class of 2013, helped to carry the Indians to the PIAA State crown in 2010 and was a four-time PIAA State medalist before accepting full offer to continue his career at Vanderbilt.
Erica, meanwhile, is a two-time reigning PIAA State girls champ, a Wake Forest University recruit and she just recently competed in the U.S. Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
And Madelein, in her freshman season at Council Rock North, placed seventh in the PIAA State Championships last fall.
"It’s unbelievable," Eric said of his children’s success. "Erica qualifying for the U.S. Open and playing in the U.S. Open was surreal. I don’t think any of us expected that. Just the opportunity we got to do that for a week and for her to play practice rounds with Karrie Webb and (recent British Open champion) Stacy Lewis … was phenomenal."
Indeed, it was an opportunity that Erica will no doubt never forget.
"That was an experience within itself," she recalled. "I got to see what it was like and I got a little taste of what it was like to be pro and it’s definitely something that I want to do when I get older."
After opening with a first-round score of 5-over 77, Erica shot an 85 on the second day and was unable to reach the cut, but she still walked away with positive memories.
"I played really, really solid the first day with my dad on the bag," Erica, 17, said. "And the second day wasn’t too hot. I got a little carried away, got some (double bogeys). So I didn’t shoot what I wanted to shoot. But all in all, it was a really good experience."
Ellie Kreider, who was the first player from Lititz to sign a professional baseball contract, and Warwick legendary boys basketball coach Dave Althouse were among those who made childhood sports a good experience for Eric. Neither of his parents, Martin and Brenda, were particularly sports-oriented. But they lived next door to Kreider, who put a basketball hoop up on his garage and taught him how to play the game. It was Kreider who took him to the batting cages and to local golf courses such as Evergreen and West View Golf Course in Akron.
"I can’t say enough about Ellie Kreider," Eric said. "He’s like a grandfather to me. I didn’t even know how to play baseball and I was terrible. He made me good and I made the Warwick Philllies and we won the New Era championship and he just taught me how to play all the sports."
When he got to high school, Herr continued to learn basketball under Althouse, one of the L-L League’s all-time greats. "Coach Althouse was a great coach and all I wanted to do was do what those guys said," Eric recalled. "It’s guys like Ellie Kreider and coach Althouse who are just great ambassadors of sports. It was a great thing."
Eric had never even picked up a golf club until Kreider mentored him. Those memories were no doubt still on his mind when Eric and his wife, Cyndie, bought their son, Zachary, a pair of clubs at a garage sale while living in Texas years ago. Just 4 years old at the time, Zachary never put down the clubs. Eventually he began taking lessons and the rest is history. "Before you know it, we’re going to these little Junior Tournaments all up and down the east coast," Eric said.
Along the way, Erica and Madelein took a liking to the sport as well.
"We’d be out there in the middle of November at Pinehurst playing a 54-hole tournament over the weekend and the girls were, like, 4 and 6, they’re all bundled up and just following him every day," Eric recalled, "and that’s when Erica said, ‘If I’m going to be out here, I might as well be playing.’ I mean, that’s how it happened. And now they just play in a ton of tournaments."
One of those tournaments in which Erica played this summer was the Rolex Tournament of Champions at the Lancaster Country Club. Competing against some of the top Junior golfers in the country, she placed 15th overall.
That was part of the AJGA Tour which also took her to the William Penn Junior Championship at Stonewall Links-North Course in Elverson from July 9-12, where she rode her three-round lead to capture top honors with a 3-over 213 (68-73-72). She also competed in the Washington, D.C. for the PGA Junior Championships last Tuesday through Friday, July 30 to Aug. 2.
In September, Erica will be representing Pennsylvania in the USGA Women’s State Team Championships in Kettering, Ohio. This is the first time in years that a Junior has been selected to accompany the Pennsylvania team.
Her success lately is a reflection of her hard work to improve her putting and chipping.
"I’m pretty much fairways and greens," Erica said. "I’m very straight off the tee. I don’t really get into trouble off the tee. My short game used to be not so good, but I’ve worked extremely hard on it the past two years and it has improved a lot. So my scores are getting consistently lower with having a better short game now."
That will only help her this fall as she bids for a third straight PIAA championship.
"I never expected to win it twice," Erica said. "I was just hoping to win it once. But now that I’ve won it twice, it makes me want to get a third one even more."
Asked if there’s pressure to defend the title, she said, "I wouldn’t say pressure. Last year, I didn’t even put pressure on myself to win it again. You just kinda go out and play and if the putts are falling, the putts are falling. Yeah, I want to win it obviously, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world."
Indeed, there are hopefully bigger things ahead for the rising Council Rock North senior.
"I definitely want to go pro," Erica said, "but I do want to do all my four years of college. I definitely want to try to get an NCAA championship in there somehow. That’s the goal."
More HERR, page B-6