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Lacrosse has been a fixture in Joyce Arter’s life since she started playing in eighth grade.

Arter enjoyed a prolific career at Calvert High School, played for four years at Longwood University (Va.) and then came back to coach at both Calvert and then as an assistant on the staff at Northern. In 2015, she will be the head coach of the College of Southern Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team when it takes the field for its first season.

“It’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve always wanted to coach college lacrosse, so this is a step right into it,” Arter said. “I’ve met with a bunch of potential girls for next year. I’ve already been talking to them about their summer workouts and will have a couple of open fields this summer. I’m real excited for them to get out there and see what it’s going to be like for next season.”

In high school, Arter was named the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference’s Most Outstanding Player following both her junior and senior seasons. As a senior, she scored 75 goals and assisted on 25 others while leading Calvert to an eventual spot in the Class 3A-2A state semifinals. The year prior she scored 57 goals. Arter was also named Calvert County’s top player in each of those seasons, and was a four-year varsity starter.

Arter went on to play four years at Longwood, and while she lost most of her junior season to a knee injury, she finished her collegiate career with 48 goals and 17 assists in 51 games for the Lancers.

Since graduating from Longwood, Arter was the Calvert head coach for four seasons from 2009-12 before leaving and joining Northern’s staff as an assistant for the past two seasons. She also has coached the Cyclones of Southern Maryland club team since 2009.

But for all of her accomplishments, Arter believes the girls coming up through the ranks today are far more skilled on the whole than the girls who were playing lacrosse 10 years ago.

“I think the talent-level has definitely increased since I was a player,” she said. “It wasn’t popular when I was in high school. We didn’t really have the parks and rec teams and travel teams that we have now. Now that it’s so much in high school and Charles County picked it up it’s becoming so popular. The level of talent is constantly increasing. They’re starting so much younger now days. They’re playing so much growing up that by the time they get to high school they’ve already had much more experience.

“I didn’t even start playing until I was in eighth grade. Now they’re playing when they’re 4 or 5 years old.”

All of which bodes well for the Hawks program that is set to take flight next spring. Arter said there is plenty of excitement, both from potential players and CSM.

“The girls are very excited,” she said. “They’ve been emailing me, wanting to get together. There’s a lot of buzz and excitement about it and I think that’s going to be really great for the program ... The athletic department there is really excited for women’s lacrosse. They think it’s going to be a great follow-up for the boys program that came last year. They’ve been emailing me and are constantly asking what they can do to help.”

Arter said she hopes to have between 18 to 20 girls on the roster for next season, and is close to 75 percent of the way to reaching that mark. The first games are still well over half a year away, but the excitement is palpable.

“I think there’s a lot of potential there,” Arter said. “The first year, with any new program, you take your bumps and bruises along the way. Obviously, I don’t know what kind of competition is out there, what we have to go up against. But I really have some talented girls coming in who I know want to see the program be very successful. I think it’s going to work out in our favor and I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like the first year.”

astates@somdnews.com