• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times


 Ava left Dusseldorf with two medals: 7th in Reel and 7th overall in her age group. Her parents left with pride.

 “She’s been so shy in the past and for her to overcome her shyness…I’m so proud.”  said mom Nicole Herries.

 Ava was one of three local Catholic school students to perform at the April 5 competition. Megan Tomerlin and Miriam Cohn, along with Ava, are members of Tir Ruaidh Dance Company of Redlands. Megan, a sophomore at Notre Dame High School, marvels at how far they’ve come.

 “I’m in high school. It’s kind of crazy that I got to do that.”

 The dancers practiced up to five days a week leading up to the competition. But after you finesse the Jig… you have to fight the jitters.

 “It didn’t really sink in until I got there and saw the stage,” said Miriam, an Aquinas High School sophomore. “I realized all I could do is dance my best, whether I was nervous or not.”

 Megan admits the atmosphere was a bit intimidating but she says it brought out the best in her, especially during the Treble Jig.

 “After I got off the stage my teacher said ‘I’ve never seen you dance like that in your life,’ ” Megan recalls. 

 Ava deals with the stress of competition by getting into “the zone,” her dad says.

 “She puts on her game face. I don’t see it any other time,” said Jim Herries.

 The parents had different fears to contend with…traveling abroad with young children. The choice to go made easier by faith.

 “I trusted God would protect us and give her (Ava) the strength to dance.” said Nicole.

 When the dancing was done, the Herries family had the unique experience of staying in Burg Rheinfels, a castle turned hotel.  

 “We felt like queens and kings!” said Nicole.

 Ava and brother Ryan, a kindergartner at Sacred Heart enjoyed the local grub. Ava said, “It was kinda cool. I liked the noodles.” The soda and salami were also big hits.

 The dancers and their families now gear up for Southern California performances but still dream of European stages.

 “It was one of those lifetime experiences,” Miriam said. “If I could I would love to go back.”

 “We would definitely do it again. They (the German people) were so willing to help us, support us,” said Jim.

 But as far as career plans go Ava has more than dancing on her mind.

 “I want to be an orca trainer!”

 Natalie Romano is a freelance writer and a parishioner of The Holy Name of Jesus parish in Redlands.