For her creative writing class this semester, Calvert senior Marisa McNatt has had to create poetry, pen children's stories and work on a one-act play.
Already an accomplished lacrosse player -- McNatt was All-Extra and first-team all-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference last year -- one might assume her characters all would be athletes and her plot lines would revolve around sporting events.
But her writing influences are the works of Ayn Rand and Zora Neale Hurston, not some muscle-toned midfielder.
"It's always been a priority for me to keep a balance between school and sports," said McNatt, who had 34 goals and nine assists for Calvert last year. "I love the sport, it's always held my interest, but I like other things as well."
McNatt is also one of 10 students from Calvert who participate in a mentorship program that allows high school seniors to work with professionals in a field of their interest.
McNatt has worked with a physical therapist, a nutritionist and a cardiac rehabilitation nurse who helps patients recover from massive heart trauma and surgeries.
Exercise and physical therapy is only a backup plan, however, in case she decides not to study in English in college. McNatt keeps a daily journal in addition to her playwriting duties.
"It is a way to describe the world around me," McNatt said. "I guess I try to describe my emotions, to get my feelings on paper. I love reading and how it can just take you somewhere. When I write, I get a sense of achievement to describe to others what I see and think. I think it's beautiful to get that feeling and emotion."
On the field, McNatt helped Calvert to one of its most successful seasons last year. The Cavaliers finished the season 10-4 and defeated William Bennett and Northern to advance to the 3A/2A East Region finals, where they lost to state finalist Annapolis.
"It was a learning experience, but it was sort of fun," McNatt said of the 14-6 loss. "I think it will help our confidence a lot. We can only get better than we were before."
Off last year's success, McNatt has attracted the attention of several Division I and Division III schools. The University of Denver, Davidson College and the University of Delaware have vied for her interest, and Denver offered her a $10,000 academic scholarship.
Division III schools such as Ursinus (Pa.) College, Greensboro (N.C.) College and Washington College have offered her academic scholarships and a place on their teams.
"Academics are pretty important to me," McNatt said, "and I don't want lacrosse to run my life when I get to college."
McNatt is one of only two seniors on the Cavaliers' team this season, and she is expected to help fill the offensive and leadership void left by Sarah Plummer, who now plays for Old Dominion University.
"She's a leader out there on the field," Calvert Coach Bonnie Harrison said. "If she can continue what she was doing last year, and pick up some of the slack from where Sarah left off, we'll be in good shape."