SW INSPIRE: Erin Herr
Lacrosse, Onondaga Community College
BY ALYSSA LAFARO | PHOTO BY JUSSARA POTTER
“Having that sense of family on and off the field — that’s what keeps me playing even more than the sport itself,” said Erin Herr. When she was just 3 years old, Erin would tag along with her lacrosse coach mom — Kathy — to practices at Skaneateles High School. “Mom would bring me every day, and I just naturally picked up the stick. That’s where my love of lacrosse began.”
Now a sophomore at Onondaga Community College, Erin plays for the school’s women’s lacrosse team as a midfielder. Unsure of what to expect this coming spring for the team, she reminisces about her freshman year lacrosse experience. “I hope to have another year like last year. Last year was amazing. All the girls on the team had such great chemistry. And we won the national championship.”
It’s true. Despite the odds, the OCC lacrosse team hired a new coach, Tom MacDonald, last year. The team made it all the way to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship game. And won. “When coach was hired, we were all kind of nervous because we didn’t know who he was or what he was going to bring to the program,” explained Erin. “But he is just so awesome. The program is completely different now that he’s here, and it seems like there are a lot more girls, this year’s freshmen, who want to play. Winning the championship really meant a lot for OCC’s program.”
But it especially meant a lot to Erin. The human services major admitted she wasn’t always so put together. “Halfway through my senior year of high school, I was told I couldn’t play on the team anymore because of my grades. I also came down with mono, and I was pretty negative about the whole thing. After being on the lacrosse team here, though, I feel like I can do it. It’s really made me realize what’s important.”
Both Erin’s teammates and coach have helped her turn things around. The team is her family, and Coach MacDonald is “kind of like a second dad,” laughed Erin. “He’s always checking in with us to make sure we’re on track.” For one hour either before or after practices, the team has a study table, where they focus on their homework and study for tests. Erin explained that balancing school and lacrosse is the biggest challenge for her. “Sometimes it’s hard because I am always ready to go, ready to play. But coach makes all of us print out our syllabi to give them to him, so he knows what’s due and when it’s due for each of us.” She also credits her assistant coaches — Maggie Koch, Stephanie Donegan, and Erin Holdridge — for giving her goals and keeping her attitude positive.
Outside of the team, Erin said her biggest support system is her family. “My parents, my two brothers, and my sister are at every game cheering me on. It’s reassuring,” Erin said. “I really look up to my parents, especially. I know that’s cliché, but they keep me positive and keep me going. Plus, they’ve just had such an impact on me and my love of lacrosse because they were both lacrosse coaches when I was little.”
Off the field, Erin’s just like any other college sophomore — she hangs out with her friends. But she’s also currently looking toward the future. As it is her last year at OCC, she has to decide where to move onto next. She’s looked at four-year colleges all over the country — from as close as her backyard (Syracuse University and SUNY Cortland) to states as far away as Ohio and Florida.
And Erin’s not only considering changing her location, but her major as well. “I’m really a people person,” she admitted, “and I felt like I could be a social worker or counselor. After going to classes, though, I decided I’d rather do speech pathology or occupational therapy. I’m nervous I’ll bring issues back home with me as a social worker. But both the majors I’m looking into still allow me to work with people, just in a different way.”
No matter where she ends up or what career path she decides to follow, Erin will continue to fall back on her love of lacrosse. And no matter how tough it may get sometimes, balancing practice and school and life in general, she’ll just reflect on some advice from good ole Coach MacDonald: “He always says, ‘Fake it till you make it.’ And I will.”