Career victory No. 500 earned Hill-Murray girls’ basketball coach Erin Herman attention. A lesser-known number, 214, means even more.
Herman counted her varsity rosters going back to 1989-90, her first season at Hill-Murray, and realized she intersected and tried to enrich 214 young lives through basketball.
“I appreciate all the work of those 214 young women who made this possible,” said Herman, who picked up victory No. 500 on Jan. 22 at North St. Paul.
A graduate of Sherburn High School (now Martin County West) in south-central Minnesota, Herman played basketball at North Dakota until a knee injury forced her to switch to tennis. Coaching kept her around basketball.
She coached middle-schoolers in East Grand Forks, served as a North Dakota graduate assistant and moved onto junior varsity gigs in Appleton, Minn., and Hopkins. The Hill-Murray job was her first as a varsity head coach.
Herman said the Pioneers' program, state tournament participants in 1986 and 1987, was “in excellent shape” when she arrived. Looking back on her 28-year-old self, however, Herman joked, “I would have said, ‘You’re fired.’ ”
“When you’re young, you drive hard in the same way you did as a player,” said Herman, 57. “I mean, I still have that. But experience makes you so much smarter. You learn every kid needs something different from you.”
She grew off the court as well, advancing from social studies teacher to activities director to dean of students to assistant principal to principal. Her father, Ray, was a high school principal who helped three school districts consolidate and transition into Martin County West.
“I didn’t think I would spend my career at Hill-Murray,” Herman said. “But I kept getting new opportunities. And I found the same qualities here that were important to my father when he was a principal.”
Herman, currently in her 31st season, was elected into the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005. She has led Hill-Murray to seven state tournaments, placing second in 2010 and 2011. Once again, there are other numbers to represent her career. This time, four, as in the number of players on the current roster whose mothers played for Herman.
Herman’s mother, Lola, presented her with a commemorative basketball after the milestone victory. And on the car ride home, Herman indulged with an orange Crush soda.
“This school really is a community,” Herman said. “I’ve been lucky to spend my career here.”