Years from now, the name Makena Carter may become synonymous with the emergence of high school lacrosse in the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

As a senior this past spring at Hamilton High School, she is believed to be the first LAUSD lacrosse player, male or female, that has received a college lacrosse scholarship. She will be attending Fort Lewis College in the fall, an NCAA Division II program in Durango, Colorado.

And it’s not like ‘Mak’ hasn’t already made a name for herself. This lacrosse standout is revered by both teammates and opponents alike.

“Every player says how much of an impact Mak has had in making them better,” said Jessica Demuth, Hamilton’s varsity coach. “She basically teaches others the game, on the side.”

Carter caught the lacrosse bug in eighth grade, shortly after the sport was introduced at Hamilton High School through the support of a US Lacrosse First Stick Grant. She began watching her older brother, Mason, playing on the school’s fledgling boys’ team.  A spark was lit.

“It just looked really cool and I thought, wow. I think I want to give that a try,” Carter said. “I had no idea the sport would be such a big part of my life.”

Her investment of time and energy in learning the game and improving her skills paid quick dividends. 

“Mak’s catching, cradling, and throwing abilities were at a college level before she hit her junior year,” Demuth said. “She raises the bar during practice and during games. Mak is a coach’s dream, a true leader with a work ethic that is rarely seen.”

Carter, a midfielder, scored over 200 goals in her career, including 114 goals in 16 games this past spring. She takes a majority of the team’s draws, plays at both ends, and rarely leaves the field. Not surprisingly, she has been Hamilton’s team MVP in each of the past two years, and a first team All-City selectee.

In addition to being the best player on the field, Demuth says Carter’s high lacrosse I.Q also makes her a coach on the field.

“Her knowledge and understanding of the game is unlike any I’ve ever seen,” Demuth said. “She always knows exactly where to be on the field and directs other players during the game too.”

When Carter is not “coaching up” her high school teammates, she serves as a volunteer coach with the local Santa Monica Dragons youth program, and played on the organization’s elite travel team, the Fire.

Playing in national tournaments with the Fire and on the Los Angeles all-star team that participated in the 2018 US Lacrosse National Tournament helped to bring greater attention from college coaches in Carter’s direction.

“Her athleticism, determination, and tenacity are huge factors,” said Fort Lewis head coach Sean Claussen. “She plays with great passion and intensity. Those are great tools for us to work with. She’s an amazing kid and we’re happy to have her coming here.”

Those who have watched her development at Hamilton High School, on and off the field, have no doubt about her future success. In addition to having close to a 4.0 grade point average, Carter is member of Hamilton’s Best Buddy Club, working as a mentor with special needs students at the school. She also serves as a peer counselor. 

In recognition of all her efforts, this spring, as part of the senior night ceremony, Hamilton High School retired Mak’s jersey, number 1. 

“It was a big surprise,” said Carter. “I was kind of shocked, but it’s a special honor, for sure.”

Demuth is confident that Carter’s impact at Fort Lewis will be as significant as the legacy she leaves behind at Hamilton.

“It’s not always that you get a top athlete, top academic all-star, and strong contributor to the community. She will be a great asset and she will dominate at Fort Lewis,” Demuth said.  

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