Though he never set foot on UMBC’s field as a player, the lacrosse career of Lloyd Carter ’97, M.S. ’09, emergency health services, began years before his time as a Retriever, and continues today through his role as head coach of Hampton University’s Division I squad.
Carter, who for years balanced coaching jobs with a lengthy leadership career in firefighting for Baltimore City, founded the program at Hampton just three years ago, making it the only team of its kind among the historically black college and university (HBCU) system.
It’s a fitting position for a man who spent much of his life making lacrosse accessible for anyone who might like to play it. “I have had a (lacrosse) stick in my hands since the 1960s,” says Carter, who grew up in Edmonson Village, just miles from campus. “My brother Bennett was nine years older, and he used to bring his stick home, and I would play with it around the house. That is how I got introduced to the sport. In my neighborhood in west Baltimore sports was our biggest outlet.”
Lacrosse Star Rising
Coming out of high school, Carter set his sights on a career in emergency services. He began his studies at Morgan State in 1977 and played lacrosse there for three seasons before the program folded in the early 1980s. While a frustrating turn of events, the loss of the program at Morgan forced Carter to put more emphasis on his future career as a firefighter in the EMS field.
“I went to Baltimore City College to get my certificate and then I was hired by the Baltimore fire department in 1983,” Carter says. “Once I got promoted in the fire department I went back and started going to UMBC to get my bachelor’s. Then I went back and got my master’s at UMBC.”
While a student at UMBC, Carter attended Retriever lacrosse games whenever he could. As he moved up in the ranks of the fire department, he continued to keep lacrosse in his life, coaching at Northwestern High for several years. Carter was named Baltimore City Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2011-13.
Still coaching at Northwestern, in 2002 Carter founded Blax Lax Inc., a club-level organization for high school and college players designed to promote diversity in lacrosse, improve exposure to the game, and create more opportunities in the African-American community. As Carter’s star continued to rise in the lacrosse community, a call from a stranger made his next steps clear.
Building a Lacrosse Program at Hampton
By chance, Carter became acquainted with the family of Michael Crawford, a lacrosse player who had been in the process of starting a team at Hampton before he passed away. As the family grieved and considered Crawford’s legacy, a Google search by Crawford’s mother brought the two together.
“She decided to keep his dream alive. She Googled ‘black lacrosse coach’ and my name came up. We had a real emotional conversation,” says Carter, who began commuting on weekends to Hampton from Baltimore for a stretch of about 18 months to help bring Crawford’s vision to life.
“I kind of fell in love with the area,” says Carter. “When I retired from the fire department (in Baltimore in 2014) I wanted to pursue a career in emergency services. I got an offer from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton and when I retired I relocated to Hampton to teach.”
He was successful in building up the club lacrosse program — so successful, in fact, that the team moved up to Division I in 2016. The team was 0-5 in its first season and was outscored 100-20 by the likes of Roberts Wesleyan, Thiel, Wagner, Ohio Valley, and Virginia Military Institute, but last season posted its first ever win over Greensboro of North Carolina.
A Growing Process
“It has been a growing process,” Carter says of the Hampton program. “We are starting to get guys who are going to Hampton who are really lacrosse players. It comes down to having the talent. The program is growing. The university is investing a lot of resources. We are right on time with my expectations. I would rather be undefeated and beat (the likes of) Syracuse and Notre Dame, but we are not there yet.”
One of Carter’s midfielders, Jacob Woodard, says what Carter has done is meaningful both for the school and for black lacrosse players in general.
“Overall it is a great experience to be part of history,” says Woodard. “To be honest, it is great just to have an opportunity to play lacrosse. It lets other kids know it doesn’t matter where you come from.”
— David Driver
Photo courtesy of Hampton University