Cheeky Herr had some growing up to do when she arrived at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.) in the fall of 2008.
“It was definitely hard to be at boarding school,” said Herr, a Princeton native and ice hockey player who had starred in U-14 competition at the USA Hockey Development camp before heading off to school in New England.
“People don’t realize what it is like when you go away from home and you don’t have your mom and dad on you to do your homework. There is nobody to tell you what to do. If I wanted to be successful, I realized that maybe I couldn’t go to the commons to hang out and that I had to go to the library. I had a great group of teachers who helped me grow as a student and a person.”
Herr had to grow on the ice as well. “It definitely made it so I played against much tougher competition,” said Herr.
“In the class above me, all but one player went D-1 (Division I). It made me have to work harder in games and practice. The pace is so much different, it is so much faster. You have to be a faster skater, think faster, and be a faster shooter. I had to get up to speed with everybody else.”
Herr’s hard work paid dividends, and by her senior year she was one of Choate’s top players, leading the team in points, goals, and assists last winter.
Having made the grade at Choate, Herr was ready to move up to the college level, choosing to join the Trinity College women’s hockey program.
For her, making that decision marked the end of an arduous journey. “I saw a PU-Colgate women’s hockey game when I was six and I decided that I wanted to do that,” said Herr, whose older sister, Sarah, was a hockey star at Lawrenceville and went on to enjoy a superb career for the Williams College women’s program.
“It is a long process. Starting in seventh grade, I started going to camps and getting myself out there. It helped that I had an older sister who went on to play college hockey. The coaches knew the Herr name and that was a big help.”
Noting that her choice ultimately came down to D-I Colgate and D-III Trinity, she felt she would have more of an opportunity to shine at the latter.
“I love hockey more than I love breathing and I have only four more years to play so I wanted to go where I can play,” asserted Herr.
She also felt a comfort level off the ice at Trinity. “It seemed like an excellent group of people and a good fit,” said Herr, noting that family friend and former Trinity field hockey and ice hockey star Payson Sword helped make her official visit go smoothly.
“I was very happy on my visit there. I went by the broken leg test — if you broke your leg the first day you were there and you could never play hockey again, would you still want to be there. I knew I would be thrilled to be there.”
The 5’3 Herr came up big in her college debut, picking up an assist in the first minute of the season opener against Connecticut College in mid-November to make for a thrilling memory.
“I was standing on the goal line and I turned to one of the other freshmen and said how did we get there,” recalled Herr, who is playing center for the Bantams.
“I have been skating since I was three and I first put on hockey gear when I was three-and-a half. I have spent my entire life to get to this moment. It was incredible to get an assist in the game. The next day I was in the starting lineup and it was great to hear my name announced over the loudspeaker.”
Drawing on her Choate experience, Herr is adjusting to the busy life that comes with being a college hockey player.
“The biggest thing is the amount of time you put into it,” explained Herr. “There are team lifts, team meetings, game films, and chalk talk. There are all those things you do together as a team and then you have to balance that with your homework. It comes down to time management and doing the things you need to do to be a better hockey player and still get good grades. We are student athletes and the schoolwork comes first.”
Herr’s first goal was special as it helped the Bantams top Amherst College 4-2 in early December.
“At first I didn’t know it went in; I got a pass at the blue line and I got a shoot off, using the d-man as a screen,” said Herr.
“I came flying in for rebound and put it on net. I didn’t know it went in until I skated past and saw it lying there in the net. The best part was that my dad was there to see it. I stood there and really yelled like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. I clinched my fists, I was elated. We really came together as a team in that game; we were passing well and communicating on the ice. Everyone got to touch the puck and everyone got a shot.”
With the Bantams having gone 4-0-1 in their last five games to improve to 7-4-4 overall and 2-3-3 in New England Small College Athletic Association (NESCAC) play, Trinity appears to be coming together at the right time.
“We are a young team,” said Herr, noting that the Trinity roster includes eight freshmen and four sophomores.
“We have new lines that have to be created; we have to get used to each other.”
As Herr gets used to college hockey, she is looking to make a greater impact for the Bantams.
“I want to continue to up my scoring and assists,” said Herr, who recently had a hat trick against the University of New England and scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Salve Regina on January 15 and now has nine points on five goals and four assists.
“I want to have more assists than goals. I need to get my shot off faster. I need to communicate better with my linemates. People don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. It is how you say it and what you say. I am a center and I need to work on talking to my wings.”
Off the ice, Herr has thrown herself into her academic work. “I am taking classes that I am interested in; if you love what you are learning, it is easy to work hard,” said Herr. “I learned a hard lesson at Choate; I learned what hard work is.”
Based on the progress she has made in her freshman year at Trinity, it is clear that Herr took those lessons to heart.