In the Baltimore area, it's no surprise that most inductees into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame come from powerhouse high schools and colleges. But, Kara Carlin, who will be inducted into the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the Hall of Fame tonight, has spent her career at C-Conference and Division-3 schools---a path that afforded her success, as well as opportunity.
"I've committed a lot of my life to athletics and to lacrosse, and to playing and coaching. It's neat to be honored in this way."
Carlin, the Athletic Director at St. Timothy's School in Stevenson, Maryland, spent her high school years at Park School, where she was a three-sport athlete. Although she could have been recruited to play lacrosse for a D-1 college, she skipped that step and enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College, where she was not only a standout on the lacrosse field in the spring, but as a field hockey player in the fall. Upon graduation, she earned the school's highest honor awarded annually to the one female senior athlete with the greatest cumulative academic and athletic achievements over a four-year period.
"I was able to be in a sorority, go abroad, and play two sports, so my experience was different than choosing a D-1 school," Carlin says about her own experience, and using it as an example to the girls she mentors at St. Tim's. "It's good for my girls who are looking at colleges right now to see that you can have success at a D-3. It doesn’t have to be at a D-1."
After college, Carlin continued her journey on the lacrosse road less traveled as a coach at Bowdoin College in Maine and later at Goucher College, where she earned her Master's in Athletic Administration. While her college players were seasoned athletes in their sport, that's not the case at St. Tim's where 36 percent of the 155 girls are international students.
"The tricky thing at a school that starts in 9th grade is that you don’t know what's coming," she says. "We get kids from all over the world. I've had kids who play field hockey or lacrosse for me, who have never played that sport before."
"You sort of figure out what the kid's assets are," she says, giving as an example a starting field hockey defender from Mexico who had never played the sport, but had incredible drives, thanks to her experience playing polo. "They do bring a different mentality to the sport."
Despite its small size, St. Tim's boasts 12 team sports as well as riding and dance, thus all the girls are required to participate in after-school activities. As a parent and a coach, Carlin believes strongly in being a multi-sport athlete, not only for the benefits of cross training, but also in terms of injury prevention and burnout. As the school's head field hockey and lacrosse coach, Carlin focuses on skills training and has become expert at meshing all levels of experience. She uses older students to help mentor the younger girls and experienced players with inexperienced.
"It's great to be able to teach girls how to so something and to do it well," she says.
St. Tim's Head of School Randy Stevens believes his Athletic Director's teaching and coaching style developed while playing lacrosse. "She is a tough disciplinarian who demands excellence from her players and staff," he says. "Who you are and who you become because of your sports experience matters to Kara and she invests a great deal of energy teaching and modeling good sportsmanship."
In recent years, Carlin has swapped playing lacrosse for running marathons. Since 2006, she has completed 11 full marathons including Boston (twice) and serves as a pacer for regional races. Lacrosse, however, will always be a part of her life and being inducted into the Greater Baltimore Hall of Fame simply draws attention to her passion for the game.