When Lloyd Carter steps on the field Saturday morning at Carroll Park, he will have flashbacks of many other days spent there.
As a former head coach at Northwestern High in the late 1990s, he and City coach Anthony Ryan spent a lot of time working with young African-Americans to develop and spread the game of lacrosse.
Nothing has changed much through the years.
Carter, 58, is returning to the city as head coach of Hampton University, the first team at a historically black college or university to play at the Division I level.
Carter and his Hampton players, in conjunction with Charm City Youth lacrosse, will hold a clinic to teach skills, run scrimmages and then speak to the children about the importance of an education.
"We're going to board the bus around 5 or 5:30 and get there to work," Carter said on Thursday. "We tried to work something out last year, but got started too late. But this year, we worked on a time and this is a good way to help others."
"I've done this before with Blax Lax [a club team he formed with Ryan in 2002]and this is my way of reaching back into the community," said Carter, who played lacrosse at Morgan University in 1977 until the school dropped the program in 1981. "It's a win-win situation for everybody."
The clinic might serve as an eventual recruiting tool for Carter. Because he is a Baltimore native, some of these young players could end up at Hampton. The Pirates are still going through some growing pains after a tough inaugural season in which they failed to win a game in 2016.
In Year Two, Hampton finished 1-7 but its roster grew from 14 players at the end of last season to 27. In 2016, the Pirates played only five games but added three more this season including three against Division I opponents.
By 2019, the Pirates lacrosse team wants to have a conference affiliation.
"I really don't have a say on that, but I know it is being worked on," said Carter. "Hampton is a member of the MEAC but the MEAC doesn't offer lacrosse as a sport. It's a weird situation but I am confident it will be resolved."
"We were competitive against the Division II and Division III teams we faced this season," said Carter. "But we struggled against the Division I teams. It's like we had problems capturing the moment. We are a young team and we were intimidated. I spent a lot of time debriefing these guys about the media presence and all the other things surrounding Division I programs. Next year, though, we'll be past that."
Carter appears to have a sound recruiting base. He is grabbing a lot of the local talent in Virginia, but also reaching into Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Ohio. He has some good, young players on the roster like goalie Joshua Tarver, who had a .604 save percentage, brother and attackman John Tarver, long stick midfielder Andrew Gray and junior middie Kier Johnson.
After another recruiting season this summer, Carter pledges to be more demanding.
"I think we're right on track as far as conditioning, practices, meetings, assistant coaches and recruiting," said Carter. "As far as those things, we are established as far as I am concerned, but everybody has their own perspective. Everybody looks at things differently."
"Next season, we have to have a sense of urgency," said Carter. "We have to be past that competitive stage and just win games. We have to turn the corner as far as wins and losses."
Until then, Carter wages another battle. In 2012, 88.2 percent of college lacrosse players were white. In 2016, that number decreased to 85.9. Reasons for the slow growth are financial barriers and cultural perceptions.
One way to change both is to have people like Ryan and Carter work in the inner city and groups like Charm City Lacrosse produce numerous clinics throughout the city in the spring and summer.
"I grew up with a lot of guys in West Baltimore who played lacrosse, and I wasn't exposed to the lack of diversity in the sport," said Carter. "I played on teams that had only African-American players. Only when I went to Morgan and we started playing other college teams that I saw only white players."
"But the diversity of the sport is changing. I see it, and it is good for historically black colleges and universities, and it's good for varsity programs in the high schools," said Carter. "Lacrosse is a great sport, and I'm excited about what I will be doing Saturday and what is going on at Hampton."
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