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Varsity Q&A: Alice Mercer, Century, lacrosse

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Alice Mercer has been a leader on Century's field hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams, which all reached the state semifinals this year.

In lacrosse — the sport the senior has signed to play at Maryland next year — she has 202 career goals and 58 this spring as the No. 3 Knights head into Friday's state semifinal against No. 14 C. Milton Wright. Mercer has been selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic on June 30 at Towson University.

In basketball, she led the Knights to the state final, averaging 9.7 points and 4.5 steals. She is also co-president of the Varsity Club, which is active in community service. She has a 3.31 GPA and plans to become a sports psychologist.

How did you get started playing sports?

I started playing lacrosse and basketball in kindergarten and, believe it or not, I was a cheerleader from kindergarten until seventh grade, so I didn't start field hockey until high school. My parents both played sports, and I was always one of those kids who loved running around, so they thought I would do very well playing sports.

What makes this Knights lacrosse team so successful?

I think it's our chemistry. Everyone's really close. I don't think we had this chemistry last year at all. Not that it hurt us that much, but everyone on and off the field is a lot closer. We interact with each other more in school and outside of school. When it carries over to the field, it's really phenomenal. Just knowing where someone is going to be when they cut, knowing that they're going to feed it to you and get it to you when you need it, things like that just help because you know everyone has your back.

You won state lacrosse titles in your freshman and sophomore year, so what was the feeling at the end of last lacrosse season when you lost to Marriotts Ridge in the final, and how did that carry over into this year?

At the end of last lacrosse season, everyone was really upset because we didn't exactly live up to our potential and beat Marriotts Ridge. I guess we use that as motivation this year. At the beginning of the season [coach Becky Trumbo Groves] always would remind us of that so we would remember what that feeling was like so we wouldn't have to feel that way this year.

Is there more pressure on you to be a leader this year as a senior?

Yeah. I felt a lot of pressure last year after I had committed to Maryland because people expect more out of you once they know. This year, it's more because I am a captain and especially for my sister because she's a freshman and we have more freshmen. They look up to me, so I want to set a good example for them. It's kind of hard sometimes when you play bad or just don't have a good game, you don't want to get down on yourself in front of them, because you don't that to want to carry over into their game.

How does playing field hockey and basketball help you be a better lacrosse player?

It gives me different field sense, just knowing your surroundings and where people are. Definitely with anticipation. Intercepting passes in basketball or field hockey is pretty much the same as intercepting passes in lacrosse. I think it helps with my first step, too, when I first start running, especially in field hockey because you're running more.

Did you ever think about giving up one of those sports?

Never. I know some people quit all their other sports to focus on their No. 1. I have so much fun playing those other sports, I could never do that and I don't know what I would do with myself if I had a season off. And I make so many friends too playing with those other teams.

Did you have a top four or five schools before you decided on Maryland?

My dream school from sixth grade until I started getting recruited was Duke. I really wanted to go there. I hated Maryland. My family was huge Duke fans … but I went to a tournament there and I realized it was just too far away. I knew my parents wouldn't be able to see me play all the time, which they've been doing my whole life, and their support got me this far, so I really want them to see me play. I only knew about Maryland from Katie Schwarzmann, who I played with [at Century]. She kept telling me to come and visit and she kept telling me "My coaches talked to me about you," so I said, "Ok, I'll come for a visit." I loved everything about it. Right away, I knew I wanted to commit there.

Do you think playing three sports prepared you to play one Division I sport in college?

Because I played three sports, I have to be more responsible. I can't ever be late to school. I can't just take days off. I can't get in trouble in school. It's hard to make up tests and quizzes after school, because I'm always playing. It helps out with time management which is a huge problem that college students have. They have more time, but they don't know what to do with it, so I think it will help.

What are you most looking forward to about graduation?

I have mixed feelings about graduating. A lot of seniors are like, "Oh my gosh, I can't wait to get out of here," but I've made so many memories here with all the teams I've been on and the classes I've been in. I'm going to be kind of sad graduating, but I'm excited for the future. I'm excited to learn more about psychology for a career after college, and I'm really excited for all the opportunities I'll have next year playing lacrosse in college and all the new friends I'll get to meet.

What made you decide you wanted to become a sports psychologist?

I did want to be a guidance counselor until this year. I just knew I wanted to help people. I took honors psychology and AP psych and I'm in sociology now and I just find it so interesting. I really want to do something in psychology. I had looked up sports psychology because I thought it would be cool to work with athletes after I've graduated from playing, because there's no professional lacrosse, so it would be cool to work with people I could relate to because I'd been through it for so long.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Be relentless. My parents sometimes before games — they've been kind of slacking on it recently (laughs) — usually since I was a freshman, they'll write me notes in my lunch, My dad says it mostly. He just says to be relentless and it just teaches me to never give up. If it's a loose ball in any sport, just always go hard after it, even if it doesn't look like the odds are for you, even if you're the underdog, just keeping going hard and try your best.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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