By CHRIS LARICK
There WAS something about Mary. Still is.
They call it class.
Whoever wrote the headline for the Star Beacon after the Jefferson-Chagrin girls basketball sectional game her sophomore year got it right.
“It was the first varsity game that I really had a big impact, “ Mary (Herendeen) Barr (Jefferson, Class of 2004) said recently. “The Star Beacon sports front page headline read 'There's Something About Mary' and i remember feeling really honored and proud for helping my team advance in the tourney.
"I also remember playing Geneva at home my senior year. The gym was packed to capacity! Going into halftime, I remember it being so loud in the gym that I couldn't hear myself think. We really had the best pep club full of my close Falcon classmates, who supported the girls' teams as much as the boys'. We ended up losing that game in the last few minute, but I'll never forget the decibel level in that place, it was amazing.”
Barr, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation’s Hall of Fame on April 3, began playing basketball on her family’s gravel driveway at a very early age.
"My dad, Bill Herendeen, was passionate about the sport and it just rubbed off on me,” she said. "I practiced dribbling and shooting with his guidance, and my brothers, Sam and Ben, accompanied me in developing our fundamental skills.
"When I was in elementary school, I started participating in the Jefferson Community Center basketball programs with the boys. I remember Jessica Kelly and I were the only girls who ran around in pinnies against all the boys in our grade.
"Later in elementary school, we joined many more girls for Miss (Jeanine) Bartlett's summer camps, which were led by the older Jefferson players whom I looked up to.”
During her early years in the game (the fifth and sixth grades), parents of some of the girls served as coaches. By that time, Barr had learned the fundamentals from her father and from the high school girls who coached the summer basketball camps.
At 5-foot-9 Barr played all positions on the court at one time or another, but favored shooting guard. Lauren Dalsky and Jessica Kelly, two of her fellow Class of 2004 teammates, played forward. By then the Falcons were benefitting from the infusion of younger talent, including freshmen such as Kelcie Hellmer, Haley Kapferer and Aleasa Knight.
Jefferson battled Geneva for the supremacy of the Northeastern Conference during those years under the coaching of the late Rod Holmes, who will be inducted into the ACBF Hall of Fame posthumously this year. The Falcons also made it to the district finals against Perry one year. Barr recalls in her senior year losing to Lake Catholic in the tournament.
The Falcons lost two games and finished second to Geneva her senior year. But Herendeen was named Ashtabula County Co-Player of the Year (with Edgewood’s Pam Dreslinski), Star Beacon girls Scholar-Athlete of the Year (with a 4.0 GPA), was first-team All-Northeast Lakes District and special mention All-Ohio. Of course, she was a first-teamer on the All-Ashtabula County and All-NEC teams,
“She was a leader both vocally and by example,” Hellmer once said.
"He was a really good coach,” Barr said of Rod Holmes. "He knew how to motivate me and basically gave me the green light as a player my junior and senior years, which was really great because I knew he trusted my skill and leadership abilities.
"He always knew how to make me smile when I was being too hard on myself (I was my own worst enemy), and had the ability to help me over my mental blocks. I'll never forget when he came to watch (or scout) our team in the eighth grade and I was so nervous. Soon after, i was asked to come practice with the high school team and I remember feeling so proud that I made an impression on him.
In addition to basketball, Barr played volleyball and softball at Jefferson.
“I loved volleyball second best, in large part due to (Coach Jeanine) Bartlett, who was one of the best coaches I've ever played under,” Barr said. "We were pretty competitive throughout my high school career in volleyball, and I believe we won the NEC a few times, including my senior year.
"The sectional/district tournament was always ridiculous because Lake Catholic was in it, so the chances of advancing were pretty slim, but we held our own for sure. I played second base and outfield in softball, and really enjoyed our spring break tournament trips to Myrtle Beach.”
Thanks to her father’s record-keeping, Barr is able to cite the awards she won during her high-school career. In basketball, she was second-team all-NEC and all-county as a sophomore; first team all-county and all-NEC in addition to second- team all Northest Lakes District and,honorable mention all-Ohio as a junior and (as a senior) first-team all county, all-NEC, and all-NE Lakes District, special mention All-Ohio, Player of the Game in the ACWSAA All-Star game, Star Beacon outstanding scholar-athlete and 2003-04 Star Beacon Co-Player of the Year.
In volleyball she earned honors as first-team all Ashtabula County and first team NEC both junior and senior years, player of the match ACWSAA all-star match senior year. She also made first-team all-county and all-NEC in softball her senior year.
As she neared graduation, she was recruited by quite a few Division III col-eges, including Wooster, Hiram, Wilmington and Case Western Reserve University.
"I was going into nursing and Case Western was the only school that offered nursing (one of the best programs in the country) so that was my choice,” Barr said. "I went for a recruitment visit and I remember the coach telling me about the UAA (University Athletic Association) and that they played teams all over, including the University of Chicago, Emory University in Atlanta, NYU, Brandeis in Boston, and the University of Washington in St. Louis, and they flew to all of those places and were essentially treated like a Division I team.
“I had never even been on a plane at that point in my life, so i was sold! I went to Case and played basketball all four years.
“It was the most amazing experience and I still have some of the best of friends that I met playing there.”
It worked out well for Case, too. Herendeen still holds the school record for most three-pointers scored in a single game (seven). She made second-team All-UAA her senior year.
After scoring about seven points and four rebounds as a junior for Case, she was averaging 14.7 points while playing 34 minutes a game in her senior year.
“That was a big deal to me because the conference is so competitive,” she said.
Barr graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Case in 2008. She stayed in Cleveland and worked in the medical ICU at University Hospitals of Cleveland for almost two years right out of college.
From there she moved on to St. Elizabeth’s School for Nurse Anethestists in Youngstown earning her Masters in Nurse Anesthesia in December, 2012.
Then she went back to University Hospitals in Cleveland, working as a CRNA there for four-and-a-half years.
Meanwhile, she volunteer-coached at Case from 2012-2014 with Jennifer Reimer.
“That was a really fun experience,” she said.
In 2017 Barr and her husband, Mike, moved to Nashville to be closer to her sister, Julie (who had preceded her as a basketball star at Jefferson) and her family.
“We loved Nashville, but my job there wasn't the best, so in 2018 we moved to Columbus, where I work for a small orthopedic anesthesia group,” Barr said.
The Barrs have been married since Oct., 2018. The two met while Mary was coaching at Case, at his best friend, Jody’s birthday party, just as she was about to move back to Cleveland after anesthesia school.
“It was meant to be,” Barr said. “We have an eight-year-old all black German shepherd named Rico, who was Mike's police dog while he worked as a ranger for the Cleveland Metroparks.
“Our beautiful daughter, Allie Rose Barr, was born on September 11, 2019, and she has changed our lives in the best ways possible. I hope she wants to play basketball someday."
Barr doesn’t participate in organized sports anymore, but still works out a lot, though not as much since having Allie.
“Sometimes I'lll go shoot hoops with my brother Ben, who still plays basketball very regularly,” she said. “I miss playing, but my knees don't allow for it anymore. I enjoy hiking in the Columbus Metroparks, working out at Orange Theory Fitness and doing hot yoga.
“I also like to read in my spare time, but my favorite thing is spending time with my family and watching Allie grow and change.”
Since this article was originally written in 2020 the Barrs have given birth to another child, Matthew, who is now almost six months old.