Family matters on and off the court

Herrick sisters lead Chicago to best record in memory

By Mahmoud Bahrani

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Meghan Herrick storms to the bench. Her Maroons are up a bucket with only 14 seconds left against a historically powerful Wash U squad. The stands are shaking­—the Chicago crowd has not been this energetic in years.

“This is our game to win,” shouts Herrick, clapping her hands and looking into the eyes of each of her teammates, “so step up. We did not prepare this entire week to lose.”

Meghan’s older sister, Morgan Herrick, sits on the bench and soaks in her sister’s words. She has been through this before. The two have been playing together since high school and know exactly what it takes to get through to the other.

Play resumes. The ball is inbounded. Wash U star Dani Hoover drives to the hoop, looking for the tying score. Morgan anticipates the drive and positions herself perfectly, delivering a monstrous two-handed block, and sealing the victory. The crowd goes hysterical.

“I’ve never beaten Wash U,” says Meghan afterwards. “To win over the defending national champs for the first time was alone a lasting experience, but to have done so with the indispensable help of my sister will forever be one of my fondest memories.”

Morgan Herrick transferred to Chicago this year after playing D-I basketball at Drake. “I don’t know if I would’ve transferred to Chicago if Meghan was not here,” explained Morgan. “Ultimately, it was a great opportunity to attend one of the elite universities and I just couldn’t pass it up. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t seize the opportunity.”

Her size, defense, and scoring ability have played an invaluable part in the Maroon’s success this season. The team is 9–3 and has defeated multiple ranked squads, including Carthage and Wash U. But then, the Herricks are used to success. In high school the girls were named to multiple all-state teams, and not just for basketball, but volleyball and softball as well. Athletic prowess runs in the family. Their father, Daryl Herrick, played professional football for the Cleveland Browns and was inducted into the UW–River Falls Hall of Fame in 1993. The girls, still toddlers at that point, were in attendance.

“Sports were introduced [to them] at a young age and are an important part of their lives,” said Daryl Herrick. Meghan fell in love with sports immediately, but it took Morgan a little bit more convincing. “Morgan was reluctant to play sports as a child,” explained Daryl. “Actually, it was her mother who coached a little league softball team just to get Morgan to play. And, of course, she was an all-star as a nine-year-old. Ultimately it was the girls’ decision to participate or not.”

Daryl Herrick immediately noticed the girls’ basketball talents and taught them to play multiple positions by working on their dribbling, passing, and shooting skills. The Herricks evolved into dominant basketball players, leading their high-school team to the Wisconsin State Series. Meghan had torn her ACL during the season and was unable to play. At the end of the first game of the tournament, however, with their team in the lead, head coach David Ross put Meghan in the game.

“Although Meghan was out because she tore her ACL, she was the heart and soul of our team and being able to share the experience of being on the court with her at state was something I will never forget,” said Morgan.

Daryl Herrick agreed with his daughters’ sentiments: “The fans understood what was happening and gave an ovation to acknowledge Meghan. The most emotional part of this was when Meghan came off the court and to the bench. Morgan gave her a big hug and tears were coming down Morgan’s face because she understood how much it meant to Meghan.”

Those words still hold true today. The sisters are extremely close and both are members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. “We’ve been going to school together for the majority of our lives… now we are just on our own, without our parents’ roof over our heads. We hang out all the time! We are involved in the same activities and live together and have the same group of friends.”

When they’re not hanging out with friends or watching football at their apartment—on any one of their four flat-screen TVs, so as not to miss a minute of the action—the Herricks are working on their game. The sisters are currently the third- and fourth-leading scorers on one of the strongest Chicago women’s basketball teams in recent memory, and head coach Aaron Roussell has been delighted at the effect that Morgan’s presence has had on Meghan, as well as on the rest of the team.

“Those two are both ridiculously competitive, and they would be even if the other were not here. But those two together really bring the next level out of each other,” said Roussell. “Having Morgan here has greatly benefited all of us, including Meghan. And I mean that both from a basketball standpoint and for Meghan’s personal development as well. Not that either needs it, but they both drive each other and hold each other accountable, as well being a great outlet and resource for each other.”

At the end of the day, the Herricks cherish and value the support that the other one brings to the table. “Regardless of what sports we play, we are always the first to offer support to one another,” said the sisters. “Family comes first.”