How LtN Builds Successful Programs - Part II: Succeeding Long-Term

After our selection process, the hard work begins. There are several factors that contribute to the long-term success of our programs. Before we dive in to those factors let’s define success for LtN.

Successful LtN programs have a group of engaged students, coaches and families who have fallen in love with lacrosse. This love of lacrosse provides our students and coaches access to opportunities on the field, in the classroom and beyond. Successful LtN programs offer the US lacrosse community the opportunity to learn, teach and serve.

The Keys to Success

  1. The Kids Come First.

    When making decisions about our programming we first think about who it impacts the most -our student-athletes. A great example is our LtN Scholars initiative. It was developed because many of our players were not in school. In our conversations with them we realized the reason was because there were too many barriers in their lives. Barriers that we could reduce, and in some cases eliminate. That decision was a no-brainer.

  2. Adapt. Adapt. Adapt.

    No two programs are the same. Schedules change. Cultures are different. Unexpected things happen. Our ability to be flexible within our structure allows us to tailor our programs to the context of the community we’re working with. Conforming our programs to each school, community center and country is critical to our success..

  3. Train Local Staff

    Developing local coaches play a huge role in our long-term success. They ensure that our programs are culturally relevant and are able to build relationships within the community better than any foreign staff or volunteer. In April 2018, we were forced to get all our US volunteers out of Nicaragua and our local coaches never skipped a beat. Programs continued as close to normal as could be expected when civil unrest shook the country.

  4. Develop Local Partners

    Working with organizations in the community allows us to stick to what we’re good at - using lacrosse to teach life skills. Through our partnerships we get access to fields and a safe place for our tutoring sessions. Partnerships also allow us to provide opportunities beyond lacrosse. Whether it’s English classes, leadership training or creative arts classes. The more we can offer our student-athletes the more they’ll love LtN and the more we can do what we do.

  5. US Volunteers

    Our short and long term volunteers train and develop local coaches. They help recruit student-athletes and introduce lacrosse culture at our sites. Once they are home they help grow our network of supporters. Without them we would not be able to successfully launch and maintain our programs.

  6. Get better every day

    If we can improve a little bit every day our programs will succeed. Every volunteer and staff member is asked to leave our programs a little better than when they arrive. Doing this ensures that collectively we have a positive impact in the lives of those who participate in our programs.

  7. Our network of donors, fundraisers and ambassadors

    Without funding we wouldn’t operate. It is YOU, our donors, fundraisers and ambassadors that ensure we continue to create positive change in the lives of our student-athletes and coaches.

Do you have any questions or comments about our work? Let us know here!

How LtN Builds Successful Programs - Part I: Choosing a Site

With LtN poised for growth in 2020, we wanted to share more about our process. How we decide which communities to devote time to and how we work day in and day out on the ground to fulfill our mission.

We want to make sure that every site we choose has a clear need for the work we do and is in line with our mission of unifying the lacrosse community to promote education and create opportunity for youth across the world. To decide this LtN developed a rubric to evaluate potential new sites.

The rubric

The rubric assesses six criteria that help us decide whether or not to launch a pilot program. The final score lets us know if we should invest time and resources into a particular site.

  1. Access to Education - How often are kids in school. How high is the barrier to entry? What are they?

    Education is at the forefront of our mission. We want to use lacrosse as a vehicle to get kids excited about and valuing their education. We prioritize communities who demonstrate a need for academic support.

  2. Access to Sport/Physical Education - Do children and youth have access to sports outside of school? Is P.E. being taught in school?
    We believe that access to sports is critical for youth development. Kids with access to a variety of sports and extra curricular activities tend to be happier, healthier and more successful. LtN gives preference to communities who lack these programs so that we can provide a unique opportunity to learn and play.

  3. Potential Partnerships - Are there people/organizations familiar with the needs of the community who can LtN can partner with at this site?
    As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. If we can identify community leaders and organizations who want to partner with us we’ll be able to do much more than we could ever do alone. Identifying these organizations is critical to our success.

  4. Local Staff - Are there people in the community who we could train to be our coaching staff?
    Our experience has taught us that without local staff who believe in the power of sport and are passionate about helping their community we cannot succeed. If we do not see any opportunity to train leaders within the community our programs will not succeed.

  5. Current Resources - Do we have the people and resources to run a 3- month pilot program?

    We also look critically at our current situation. Is LtN in a place to expand? Do we have volunteers ready, willing and able to help us train and develop future coaches? Do we have the gear we need (sticks, balls, goals, etc) so that we can run programs effectively? The last thing we want is to over extend our resources.

  6. Opportunity to Volunteer - Is the site conducive to hosting short and long-term volunteers?
    A critical element of our mission and programs is the ability to connect US volunteers to the world at large. We want to provide the opportunities for coaches, players and lacrosse fans to experience the power of sport first hand. Being able to connect the US lacrosse community to our programs is important. If we cannot do that then we are not fulfilling our mission.

What the score means

Each criterion is scored, one (1) to 3 (three). The sum of all six criterion tell us if we should move forward or not. Her’es how we’ve broken it down.

  • 0-6 indicates the site is NOT a good fit for our programs.

  • 7- 11 tells us we are missing something before we can organize a pilot program.

  • 12-18 lets us know we are a good fit and we should plan to launch a pilot program.

the pilot program

Once we’ve gotten a score we either move forward with our pilot program to see how the community responds. We spend at least three (3) months running our after-school lacrosse programs. The pilot is evaluated on a series of quantitative and qualitative metrics. Based on this evaluation and the recommendation of our on-the-ground staff our Board of Directors votes whether or not to launch programs full-time.

Next week Part II: Succeeding Long-Term

The Versatility of the LtN Experience: Rachel Ziemba


With my return to school rapidly approaching, I can confidently look back and say, what an awesome summer! I luckily got to spend June and July working for LtN in the sweaty yet beautiful Bocas. Seeing LtN’s Panama presence turn just one year old, my fellow interns and I were all reminded of both the progress that had been made in such short time and the great potential to grow that still remained.

Taking this potential as inspiration for action, we all divvied up the many things we hoped to accomplish in order to leave LtN Panama a little better than we found it and got to work. I took the lead on analyzing and reorganizing LtN’s metrics and evaluation methods in place for Nicaragua programs. In addition, I developed a similar system for Bocas, something that had yet to materialize due to the growing nature of our programs there.

Working in a foreign country for a small non-profit with a relatively new presence in the area, this summer proved to be equally as challenging as valuable. I learned to navigate working with limited resources, mastering the art of improvisation and problem solving. Cultivating genuine trust with the local community by immersing myself wholeheartedly also required me to take a few worthwhile steps outside my comfort zone.

“For a Biology major with aspirations to become a physician one day, what struck me most about my time with LtN was how I will be able to transfer all that I learned to my academic discipline and intended career path."


For a Biology major with aspirations to become a physician one day, what struck me most about my time with LtN was how I will be able to transfer all that I learned to my academic discipline and intended career path. While the actual work I do will change one day, it will do so in name only, as the principles that govern working to improve the lives of others using creative, modest methods and solutions will remain the same. Similarly, I know one day I’ll be able to point to my experience connecting with the players and parents of Bocas as a strong foundation for the ability to establish honest, natural relationships with patients and families.

While interning with LtN this summer, I learned to make the most of the available resources to maximize the benefit of my presence anywhere for whomever I may serve.  My biggest dream for the future is to be able to care for people in the greatest need, and I’m grateful to LtN for giving me the tools to accomplish my dreams. I sincerely hope that one day I may be able to use my newly-minted background in a small, international non-profit organization to work for a humanitarian cause and help make the world a better place. 

As a final sendoff I must say THANK YOU to LtN for an amazing and valuable summer. I will forever carry with me the countless lessons learned in Bocas.

Dedicated Dudes

What’s better than two young dudes that love lacrosse showing up every day to practice, smiling and always wanting to learn new tricks? As a coach, not much that’s for sure! Over the past two months, I’ve gotten to watch the eager and positive dedication of two of our players, Arcelio and Jose, shine through. The fact that they’re fun to hang out with, talented, and good friends are all just added bonuses. Their can-do attitudes deserve some recognition so let me tell you a little bit more about these two dedicated dudes…


Arcelio is in 8th grade and actually lives right across the street from our field. This may partially explain why he’s always earlier to practice than I am - yes, I often find him there waiting for me - rain or shine. And he always wants more. One day, I strolled up to the field wearing my raincoat and said to him, “A mí no me gusta cuando está lloviendo” (“I don’t like when it rains”). Expecting him to agree with me, I was only half surprised when he simply shrugged his shoulders, scooped up the ball I’d put out and threw a fake in my direction eager to play. As I said, he always wants more… more shooting, more games, more stick tricks… more, more, more. 

Arcelio’s hunger to learn is evident. Trying out new dodges, passes, and shots are high on his list of his favorite 10 am activities. And he is never afraid to make a mistake. If I throw him a behind-the-back pass, he tries to imitate it. Over and over again he will continue to make the pass until he’s got it down - well, at least most of the way :) Lacrosse has become a place for Arcelio to really express himself. You may not have guessed by my gushings of him this far, but Arcelio is extremely quiet. In our time getting to know one another, I’ve seen him take on a new confidence in practices - from his contagious chuckle after I mess up my Spanish to the “already??” he throws at me if I say our time is up for the day.

Arcelio‘s dedication to the sport, to his personal improvement and to his team culminated in a huge success for him last week! He earned his own stick! His commitment, hard work and positive attitude have resulted in a well-deserved reward. His next challenge: keep track of his stick, take care of it and keep coming to practice! 

Jose, who is in 4th grade and comes to our afternoon practices, certainly knows a few things about stick responsibility, smiles and shooting. As one of the first boys to start coming to our programs nearly a year ago, Jose has put in maximum effort since the very beginning. He says that lacrosse has taught him “how to leave it all on the field” and to try his hardest. Not a practice goes by where he isn’t “cansado” (“tired”) by the end, shouting for a give-and-go multiple times over, and trying his best to have his team win the relay races. Though he admittedly enjoys offense and scoring goals more than running back down the field to play defense, he understands that you must execute both to be a good player. His answer when you ask the players, “What did you like about today’s practice?” is nearly always the same: me gustaba ganar y perder (“I liked winning and losing”). This understanding of the game and what it means to be a part of a team at such a young age is inspiring to his teammates as well as to me as a coach! It’s awesome! And, like Arcelio, because of his dedication, Jose has earned the privilege of having his own stick. He chose a sweet black and red one… clearly he has great taste, too.

Jose 1.jpg

But, the thing about Jose that really makes him such an enjoyable player is that he’s a giving teammate. Whether its giving a gentle pass to a teammate who is still developing her catching skills or giving his time to explain a drill to a confused friend, Jose brings his teammates along with him. And, he does it with a smile plastered on his nine-year-old face. From the moment he arrives at practice to the moment he leaves to go play with other friends, Jose is smiling, laughing and cheering. 

So, way to go Arcelio and Jose! The dedication of these two amazing dudes is helping to enhance our programs here in Bocas and to make them as fun for the kids as possible. Knowing that the sport of lacrosse is impacting their behaviors and seeing how happy it makes them is the best reward a coach could ask for. Keep up the hard work! 

Maria, Panama PD

A Farewell for Now


Bocas is a special place, and Program Director Caroline Rath is no doubt a very special person! Over the past year, Caroline has spearheaded the development of a brand new LtN site. This is no simple task - each day Caroline consciously worked to build relationships by getting involved in the community, spreading the word about our programs and thinking critically about community needs... all the while living in a new country with a new language. This was nothing short of a daunting set of tasks when Caroline first arrived last July! However, looking back on her time in Bocas, it is an experience that Caroline explains has been so valuable, rewarding and absolutely life-changing for her. 

My name is Maria and I am the newest Program Director of LtN’s Panama site. Through my studies and my short time here in Bocas, I have observed that it takes a particular skill set to spearhead international development work. Every day Caroline wears a smile and brings her ambitious, can-do attitude to any and all situations. Whether tackling a new programmatic obstacle or accomplishing a goal, a part of the job is learning and adapting almost every minute of each day. As Caroline wraps up her volunteer year with LtN, I have been lucky enough to have this opportunity to learn from her hard work, say goodbye, and most importantly say thank you to the young woman who has filled every day in Bocas with laughter and lessons. 


Having only arrived in Bocas 4 weeks ago as Caroline’s future replacement, I was admittedly just as nervous as I was excited for all that was to come. Since then, I have realized that I could not have asked for a better, more fun and responsible person to help me transition into the role of Program Director for LtN in Bocas. The advice, reassurance and encouragement that she has instilled in me and LtN’s summer interns since our arrival are unparalleled. From patiently listening to me try to speak Spanish to the kids at practice to pushing me to meet as many locals as possible in order to expand our network, Caroline has opened my eyes to the ins and outs of living and working in Bocas. Its not surprising that the achievements she has made here for LtN’s programs over the past year are reflective of her calmness, constant laughter and impressive work ethic. 

While this entry cannot fully express the appreciation myself and our family in Bocas have for Caroline and her work, , I am hopeful that these words of gratitude are a strong start. Ironically, that is the mark that Caroline has left us here with: a strong start. There is a saying that goes, “nothing worth having ever comes easy.” Running successful programs, creating lasting relationships and influencing lives takes a lot of determined work. But, Caroline has put in that work and shown me just how worthwhile the effort is. 


Indeed, Bocas may run on “island time” and the people have different ideas around the “necessities” in life, but Caroline and the Bocas community have all experienced the fruits of her labor, and our team has thrived over this past month because of her guidance. From her I have already learned so much. Ultimately, nothing beats the feeling of seeing a young laxer gain a new skill or earn their very own stick; watching children finally work together to score a goal or to understand that mistakes are simply part of learning; or even discovering the beauty of a life defined by simplicity.I could not be more grateful to Caroline for what she has taught me and without her hard work, willing personality and ability to dive head on into challenges, LtN in Bocas would not have developed to where it is now. So, once more, thank you, Caroline. Your Bocas Family and I cannot wait for you to come back and visit! 

Maria M.

Pingry's Luke and Olivia pass on the LtN Tradition

Group LtN Eport pic.JPG

Liv and I were the co-leaders of the Lacrosse the Nations Club at Pingry. We both recently graduated and were the captains of our respective lacrosse teams and have been involved with LtN since our freshman/ sophomore years at Pingry. We have greatly enjoyed leading the club over this past year. Our LtN activities occur locally during the fall and with fundraising in the spring.

This past fall, Liv and I designed and ran 2 half-day events with the Elizabethport Presbyterian Center. The first event involved 25 middle school children coming to Pingry for a lacrosse clinic designed and run by us with assistance from a bunch of our lacrosse teammates. The subsequent event was held at Eport’s Preschool where the Pingry LtN Club ran arts and crafts activities in four classrooms with 40-45 young kids.


To support the international arm of the LtN organization, we ran two fundraisers: one in late Jan/Feb selling LtN t-shirts and the second in late Apr/May selling Pingry bleacher seat cushions. We raised just over $3000 to support Lacrosse the Nations.

We will miss the Pingry LtN club but have left it in good hands.


Pingry High School’s 2019 LtN Club Members.

Pingry High School’s 2019 LtN Club Members.

Our First LtN Experiences: Summer Interns Talk

Only a short two weeks ago, we landed in Bocas del Toro ready to learn, experience and assist in all aspects of LtN programs. So far, it’s been awesome. From how to organize practice plans to understanding the value of community engagement and trust, our interns have seen so much. We spend our mornings going on runs along the water, our days with kids at practice and the local school, and our nights binging Netflix together and learning how to cook for a house of 6. By the time we reach the weekend, we are grateful for the time to explore the islands, bike around town, and catch up on some Z’s. Being able to bounce new program ideas off of each other has brought us many laughs and much learning. Here are our initial reactions of LtN in Bocas and what we are excited for over the next couple months...


Gunnar: “I’m excited to see the day-to-day of living and working here. From how to effectively get in touch with the community and help serve their needs to how a nonprofit operates, all elements are important to me - no matter how little.”

Will: “As the primary intern in charge of fundraising, I am working on growing our LtN network this summer. Learning more about how LtN connects various teams and programs to grow the game has been a really cool experience. I am blown away by how invested our supporters are in our mission and by the interest I have seen from those wanting to get involved.”


Jordan: “In my first two weeks I have seen how lacrosse extends beyond the field and brings joy, structure, and learning to kids. For example, one of our players was awarded his very own lacrosse stick due to showing respect, teamwork, and consistent effort at practice. His face lit up! Knowing the influence this sport can have on so many lives makes me really pumped for this summer.”


Rob: “The positive attitudes of kids and their desire to learn each and every day has really been inspiring. Not only do they exemplify the impact that LtN’s programs can have on a community, but the positivity and engagement of the kids open the door for further growth. As the lead intern for our Community Outreach element, I am excited to work with the community and continue mutually beneficial work here in Panama.” 


Rachel: “Seeing the passion that our young players have for the sport makes me even more excited to share my love of the game with them and continue to grow the sport through LtN.

Program Director, Maria: “The kids at practice are so helpful and patient with me as I begin to develop my Spanish skills that it makes every day that much more fun! I am truly learning virtually every minute of every day.” 

Lessons Learned in Colombia

Lessons Learned in Colombia

Along with LtN Board Chairman Greg Bice, and two of his Resolute Lacrosse staff members, we set off to explore Bogotá for 5 days. Our objective was to see if the communities we visited would accept LtN, be open to having our programs and what it would cost to get us off the ground.

A 10 Year Old Heads Our International Program Development

International program development is no easy task. LtN has been in Panama for almost one year since we began our pilot programming, and we’ve had our fair share of hurdles - from conflicting partnerships and limited volunteer resources to site relocation for our Bocas practices. Although international development means having to accept some challenges, those challenges are usually the catalysts for incredibly beneficial growth. And that’s just what we’ve found in our Bocas community, with the help of a 10 year old.


Coming back after winter break, LtN had to find a new location for our Bocas practices, so I (Panama PD, Caroline) with the help of our volunteer, Shauna, searched high and low for a place that kids would know that’s also easily accessible to all kids who want to play. In the process of this literal scorching and sweaty bike search, Shauna and I decided to take a break and plop ourselves down by a basketball court in front of the beach to throw the lax ball around.  As we were passing around, there were a couple of kids playing basketball on the court adjacent to us. Little did we know at this moment that a ton of kids live across the street and play there everyday.  We thought, hey, this is a cool sport for some lacrosse, so we made it one.

Practices started out slow, but eventually more and more kids were running from across the street from their homes or leaving their soccer games on the other court to come and play with us. This is when 10 year old Laisha, became a part of the LtN family.  

One afternoon, three girls were playing a game of tag on the court.  Shauna and I began to talk to them and eventually asked if they wanted to play lacrosse with us.  At first they were tentative, but it was Laisha who took onto the game fast. She was passing and catching in the matter of 5 minutes, helping explain the fundamentals to her two younger cousins, Karla and Reychell.  From then on, she has been dominating the court!


Every practice she picks up a new skill or drill so quickly.  It’s incredible to watch the progress Laisha has made in just a matter of two months. Not only has Laisha conquered the game through her skills; the lacrosse “court” has become a place where she shows great discipline.  In the beginning of April we implemented a rule that if a player shows up late for practice, they have to run a lap before joining the team.  Laisha showed up a couple minutes late and immediately knew what she had to do without us reminding her. She got on the line, ran a lap, went to the bag to pick up a stick and got in line for the drill.  As a coach, it’s exciting to see your player embody a strong work ethic and put forth effort. What’s even more exciting is knowing that lacrosse practices are now a time where other players can observe Laisha’s work and follow by example.

Beginning this month, we’ve started handing out sticks for our players to take home at the end of the week.  We decide on two players and have the team vote who they believe most deserves the stick. These players need to exemplify good sportsmanship (on and off the field), listen and be respectful during practice, and come to practice with a positive attitude.  Not sure if this will come as a surprise to you at this point, but the team voted on Laisha to be our first player to receive her very own lacrosse stick.

Since receiving her own stick, Laisha has brought it to every practice with a huge smile on her face, ready to go.  Seeing her run across the street for practice, stick in hand, fills me with joy because I can’t wait to see what new tricks she has up her sleeve for that day’s practice.

Hurdles in our path of program implementation brought LtN to Laisha. Laisha, in turn, has brought passion, learning, and high numbers of kids to our programs ever since. Coaching a player like Laisha is a true prize and I can’t wait to see where this game takes her. She has so much greatness ahead and has brought so much light to this program with her positivity and radiant demeanor. LtN’s international programs serve a variety of purposes; but perhaps above all, our practices give children like Laisha a platform to grow, to share her light, to push those around her forward, and to enjoy every second of the process. Thank you Laisha, we should call you LtN’s new Director of Program Development, but simply calling you our teammate is more rewarding.

Caroline Rath

LtN Panama Program Director

LtN Impact: Physical Limitations Can't Limit Eybar

LtN Impact: Physical Limitations Can’t Limit Eybar

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Eybar arrived to the Bocas Community Center where we hold practices one afternoon in November with his brother. It was during a group trip, and I was sitting on the porch of the community center with Karen (one of our volunteers visiting with the group).  Karen noticed Eybar eagerly watching everyone play pick up before practice, so she asked him if he was interested in playing. Eybar shook his head “no”.

Polaroid photos of Caroline, Karen, and Eybar on Eybar’s first day of lacrosse in Bocas del Toro.

Polaroid photos of Caroline, Karen, and Eybar on Eybar’s first day of lacrosse in Bocas del Toro.

I should probably mention before moving forward with my story that Eybar has physical limitations, but by no means do they limit him. Eybar uses a wheelchair.

Not being able to communicate in Spanish, Karen used creativity to express a powerful message to Eybar. She pulled up a video from youtube of wheelchair lacrosse and we asked if he would watch with us. Eybar began watching the video and his eyes lit up with excitement.  He became so engrossed in the video that he leaned over to get closer to the screen and almost fell into Karen’s lap. Seeing the enormous smile on Eybar’s face almost brought tears to my eyes, I had never seen someone become so empowered by something.

After watching the video, we asked Eybar again if he wanted to play.  This time he responded by immediately reaching for my stick. I put him in his wheelchair and took him out to the beach so he could experience the new game he just discovered.

We started out with everyone’s favorite drill, steal the bacon. At first, Eybar asked me if I would wheel him around. I gladly accepted his request and when his number was called, I would wheel him out to go after the ball. His determination was striking.  I could not keep up. He was so fierce, constantly wanting to attack and go after the ball. After that drill my face hurt from smiling and laughing so hard. It was such a joy seeing Eybar having what seemed like the time of his life. It didn’t take long until he took the field on his own.

“After a water break, I asked if he wanted to play in the scrimmage. He replied that he wanted to sit out for a little. Only five minutes later came the most powerful moment I may have witnessed.”

Eybar - AKA the Ninja in Goal.

Eybar - AKA the Ninja in Goal.

After a water break, Eybar was watching the scrimmage from the sideline when I noticed his face overcome with this determined look.  He slowly removed himself from his wheelchair and grabbed a stick from the bag. He was heading to the field. You could see it in his eyes, he was not stopping until he got to our 3x practice goal. When he arrived at the cage, he positioned himself in front of the net, declaring himself the designated goalie for the rest of practice. Every time someone came up with the ball he immediately shouted, demanding the ball in his stick. He would dive to save shots, eager to get the ball any point it was remotely close to him. This kid was a ninja.

After practice was over, I went to sit on the steps.  Eybar came over with an orange and sat next to me asking if I would like to share with him.  We sat on the steps for a couple minutes just talking and eating the orange, when suddenly I felt arms clench around my waist.  He leaned closer to my ear and said, “gracias”. I struggled to hold back tears.

This is a moment I will hold on to for the rest of my life. There were many factors that led to Eybar’s discovery that day, from our determined and caring volunteers to our supportive players who now call themselves Eybar’s teammates. If not for Karen’s brilliant idea, Eybar may have never included himself in practice that day.

Teammate and friend, Anthony, posing with Caroline and Eybar after practice.

Teammate and friend, Anthony, posing with Caroline and Eybar after practice.

Watching Eybar transform from a discouraged kid to a fearless warrior on the field reminded me of what this program means and why it started. Sure, the sport itself is fun. But, it is so much more than that. I love getting to teach lacrosse in a community that has no prior knowledge of what the sport is.  From my time here in Panama, I see examples of it every day. We use this sport to empower and motivate kids like Eybarto believe in themselves and build the confidence to try new things.

— Caroline Rath, LtN Panama Program Director

Nicaragua Player Spotlight: Efren


Chiquilistagua Practice, Nicaragua

Age: 15

8th Grade

Favorite Subject: Science

Efren started coming to practice at the start of Chiquilistagua’s 2017 school year. He loved passing around and jumping into our scrimmages, but quickly learned that he was required to complete an entire warm up with the team before participating. Upon this discovery, Efren developed a habit of coming late to practices in order to “miss” the warm ups but still get his lax on. When Coach David and Program Director Dan let Efren know he couldn’t compete if he did not warm up and complete their conditioning, Efren’s attendance dropped.

A few weeks of not playing, Efren made the decision that stepping up to do some things that he didn’t want to do was a task he was willing to take on if it meant returning to play alongside his classmates and friends. Now Efren is in 3rd year of lacrosse, attending weekly tutoring with LtN’s coaches. Last year, his team won the LtN Cup, bringing the trophy back to Chiquilistagua school thanks for Efren’s defense. When asked about his thoughts on lacrosse, Efren reflected:

“Lacrosse is a sport that is very physical and helps us stay in shape. I like all the drills and techniques we learn every practice, and the coaches help us to become better people through the charlas (LtN’s life-skills discussions).”

Efren overcoming his distaste for warm-ups and conditioning may seem like a small step forward for some of us more attuned with the youth sporting requirements in the U.S. However, many times students in Managua lack an incentive to rise above a daunting challenge to achieve a hirer goal. At LtN, our programs work to provide children with an incentive to learn (lacrosse) and our coaches serve as resources for students to accomplish their short and long term goals.

Panama Player Spotlight: Anthony

Player Spotlight: Anthony


Bocas Town Practice, Panama

Age: 8

Grade: 3rd

Favorite Subject: Science

I first met Anthony during LtN’s second week here at the Bocas Community Center. From the get go, he was super interested in this new sport called lacrosse. After picking up the stick, Anthony started coming to every practice - falling in love with the sport as so many of us do.

But a few months in, Anthony stopped coming to LtN practices. I was concerned about him, I was confused why he was not attending, because I knew how much he loved playing.

One day, I saw Anthony on the street and asked him why he was not coming anymore. He replied saying it was too far away, but that he was really missing practice and wishes he could come back.

FYI: The beach we practice on is in the middle of Bocas town. While it’s a relatively central location, kids come from all over the island to attend. Lots of times, our practice is the only place for kids to play an organized sport – there’s mens’ pick-up games all over, but having a safe space for children to engage in sports and learning is rare.

I really hated the idea that Anthony would have to give that up because of distance. After hearing this, I told him I would pick him up before practice time. So I did. We walked together to practice the next week, and shortly after Anthony returned to our practices.

Anthony and teammates at LtN Practice during W&L and CNU Lacrosse’s service trip week.

Anthony and teammates at LtN Practice during W&L and CNU Lacrosse’s service trip week.

Now, Anthony is one of our best students. Not only is he invested in the sport, but when other kids are acting out or goofing off he is right there telling them to stop or helping me explain things.

He is a true captain, embodying the mission of LtN. I’m proud to say that through LtN, Anthony has found a space to demonstrate and develop these traits on a weekly basis. Anthony is a great demonstration of our initial programmatic success in Bocas, and I am so excited to watch him develop into an even better leader with practice.

— Caroline Rath, Panama Program Director

Brennan Takes Sports Philanthropy into his Own Hands

Roughriders 8th Grader, Brennan, has built himself an impressive resume. As a club lacrosse player with a passion for using sport for good, Brennan has taken sports philanthropy into his own hands from a young age.

LtN first heard from Brennan in the spring of 2018 when he requested to volunteer in our after-school programming with the Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville. To summarize his experience, Brennan reflects:

“The women that I worked with [running LtN’s Charlottesville programs] were incredibly patient coaches, knowledgeable and professional as leaders of the volunteers. They showed me how to approach the very young students so that they could either fall for the sport of lacrosse in the same way that I have, or just have a fantastic time. I was given leadership opportunities to engage students, and frankly I got better with each chance that I was given.. I walked away from my experience a much better leader. I will 100% volunteer again this summer.”

While we were delighted to have Brennan as a volunteer who is enthusiastic and motivated about LtN’s mission, Brennan had more in mind. In the previous year, Brennan organized a lacrosse tournament to raise money and awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. We were honored to receive word from Brennan after his volunteer experience in Charlottesville that he and his teammates decided to include Lacrosse the Nations in their 2018 Lacrosse My Heart event.

As a sport-for-development organization, we aim to be a catalyst for young leaders. By employing something that we all know and love - lacrosse - players, coaches, and fans can impact lives and create momentum for larger community involvement in philanthropy. We’re thrilled that LtN’s programs can stand alongside Lacrosse My Heart’s charity partners, but the true honor is promoting a cause that motivates youth to step up and lead others to action. In Brennan’s reflection of his event which took place this October, he stated:

“I am amazed at how much every guy stepped up to make a difference raising money for important organizations like Lacrosse the Nations and playing their hardest to make the crowd feel excited about the effort. It was a fantastic day.”

CJ Sets the Bar High as an LtN Ambassador

CJ first discovered LtN Costa Rica during a family vacation in Playa Potrero. From the moment he heard about LtN’s mission, he was ready to get involved. Since then, CJ has worked single-handedly throughout his spring season as an ambassador for our cause, raising awareness and funds for our programs. CJ topped off his spring efforts with a trip back to Playa Potrero to play lax with some old friends of LtN…

“It has been an exciting year working with LtN! I first learned about the organization while on vacation in Costa Rica with my family over a year ago. The philosophy of the program really hit home for me. I love lacrosse, so giving kids who are less fortunate than I am an opportunity to learn the game, plus enrich their lives academically, meant a lot.

“I spent my spring season reaching out to friends and family along with my club lacrosse coach to raise awareness and money to support Lacrosse the Nations. I was fortunate to raise over $1,100 for the organization. I then traveled to Costa Rica this past August to work with the kids involved in the local community center run by past LtN partner, Abriendo Mentes.

“The director of the program, Rachael, was amazing in helping set up the equipment and sending out announcements to the community that I would be there to play with the kids. I also worked with a man named Mario who heads up the computer classes at Abriendo Mentes. I had so much fun playing with the kids and also practicing my Spanish!

“Even though there was a language barrier, the love of the game made communicating easy.  It was an incredible experience which I hope to participate in again next summer. I also want to raise my goal in future fundraising for such a great organization. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of LtN.”

CJ Boustany

A Letter of Thanks: Will Cogan on his Trip to Panama

My name is Will Cogan and I am a senior defenseman at Christopher Newport University. A few weeks ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel to Bocas del Toro, Panama to work with kids and spread the game that I love. I did this with teammates and members of the Washington & Lee men’s and women’s lacrosse team.

Will and CNU teammate, Miles, coaching some beach lax in Bocas.

Will and CNU teammate, Miles, coaching some beach lax in Bocas.

This experience is something that I will never forget. In my 15 years of playing lacrosse, this was by far the most rewarding, humbling, and unforgettable experience I have had in the game of lacrosse. Each day we woke up with the opportunity to positively impact high schoolers and young kids with the game that we love so much. Knowing that every day would give us an opportunity to teach a game that these kids have never seen before seemed challenging at first, but once we had the stick in our hands it was just like any other day for us. We got to teach kids how to catch, throw, scoop ground balls, and even fun games like hungry hungry hippo. Whether it was at the local high school or at the Give & Surf community center on the beach it was a week filled with smiles, laughs, and a whole lot of fun.

Will testing out his goalie skills alongside fellow volunteer and W&L Women's Coach, Erica.

Will testing out his goalie skills alongside fellow volunteer and W&L Women's Coach, Erica.

I want to express how thankful I am of the Lacrosse the Nations staff (Caroline and Brooke) and the Give & Surf staff (Drew and Taylor) for giving us such an amazing experience. Drew and Taylor taught us so much about the communities of Bocas and Bastimentos, and as took us on many adventures that I will never forget. Brooke and Caroline showed us that you do not need to speak the same language in order to connect with young kids and teach the game that we love.

I hope that LtN can continue to grow their programs in Bocas del Toro, and that it remains a place to go for years to come. I STRONGLY encourage any lacrosse player, coach, or fan to go on a trip with Lacrosse the Nations, to experience what its like to give back to a sport that has given us so much. Thank you LtN and Give & Surf.


- Will Cogan

CNU Mens Lacrosse '19

Your First Day of Lacrosse: LtN Supporter, Tony

September 27, 2017… My first day of lacrosse. 

Yes, you read the year correctly. I was 25 years old. My friends grew up playing lacrosse, but lacrosse was during track season, and my parents were not having it. After high school I went to the military for 6 years. When I got out I had the choice to stay with track which I had been my life, or play “the fastest sport on two feet”. I wanted to put that theory to the test…

September 27, the team president gave me his stick, a ball, and directed me to go play wall ball… first lesson I learned in lacrosse? Never take one ball to play wall ball. Needless to say the first round of wall ball was short.. I don’t think I caught the ball once that whole day. Less than 6 months later, I was starting on the wing, for The University of Miami. Short stick defensive middie. only player on the team that finished the season without spending 1 second in the penalty box. No, it's not because I rode the bench.

There were 2 moments when I knew that: “lax is life”. 

1: I was having an awful day.. went out side, threw the ball as hard as I could at the wall, kept stick extended in place, and ball came right back as if I was playing paddle ball. The sound the ball made when it smacked the back of my net had me hooked. The harder you throw the ball, the faster it comes back to you. There is no greater stress relief in sports than wall ball in lacrosse.

2: I was having problems with the GI bill paying for my school, someone broke my laptop and didn’t tell me, someone stole my phone and my wallet, someone rear ended my car making it non-drivable, and the army was not paying me for housing… hell was burning around me.. what did i I do? just played wall ball longer. 4 hours a day sometimes.. nothing better to do…. then i lost my stick, and the world stopped spinning. I had a panic attack. iPhone X: stolen, didn’t care. car: wrecked, didn’t care. Paychecks: weren’t coming, didn’t care. Laptop: broken, didn’t care. I could not even go have a beer with my friends because my ID was stolen, didn’t care…However, life without a stick, and no means to replace, it terrified me.

That was just 5 months after the day I started.

Today makes 10 months, not even a year, and I am in the process of relocating to Latin America in December to grow the game… lacrosse saved my life, set me free… through me, I am going to allow it to do the same for others.

(Good thing this wasn’t “first goal”, or I wouldn’t have been able to contribute.)

Your First Day of Lacrosse

Lacrosse the Nations is starting up a new campaign this week. It's called "Your First Day of Lacrosse."

It's in honor of our approaching trip to Panama, and the children we will have the privilege of working with down there. This will be the FIRST time these kids will ever see the game of lacrosse. Some may absolutely hate it, some will love it. "Your First Day of Lacrosse" is a campaign that's aimed to honor the moments of discovery that await these kids. And to reconnect all of YOU - LtN's supporters, donors, and believers - to this first moment of discovery for you: the first time you experienced something that you knew you'd love for the remainder of your life.

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When was the first time you ever saw a lacrosse stick?

Did you pick it up? Try and play?

Did you look on with admiration?

Did you sit there wondering what the heck those kids were using sticks to throw a ball around for?

No matter how familiar or how foreign the sport of lacrosse was to you, at one point in your life, on one day, it was something brand new and exciting - something that made you feel a certain way.

As we prepare to launch our pilot programs in Panama, I've started thinking a lot about what makes programs successful, what creates the best experience and provides the most benefit to those involved. I remembered back to when I was first introduced to the game of lacrosse, and how it made me feel to play on my very first day. It was tricky, it was cool, it was fun, and it was different. Within the first practice, I was able to pick up catching and throwing pretty easily, and I was pretty pumped as a little 5th grader showing off my skills to novice 6th and 7th graders. Lacrosse made me feel like no other sport had so far. As a young girl it gave me confidence and put a smile on my face. 

As I grew, so did my love for it - it became a way to socialize, to compete, to learn from and with others. It inevitably made me a better person, got me to an incredible college (Go 'Ders), and introduced me to people who have changed my life in every sense of the word. Lacrosse allowed me to travel to Nicaragua, where I learned more about myself in 13 months than I had thus far in my 22 years. During my time there I shared my every-day life with absolute strangers - incredible kids, families, and role models (@Normdaddy) that I would NEVER have met otherwise. I can trace so many of my attributes, so many of my favorite memories, so many of the most challenging but rewarding moments of my life back to my first day of lacrosse. 

"Your First Day of Lacrosse" is a campaign we are running over our social media from now until the end of our summer trips to Panama. We will be sharing stories of our players, staff members, volunteers, and friends on what they remember about their first day of lacrosse. We hope that you all will be able to use these stories to jog your own memory of your first days. Share these memories us. Post it and tag us, recount it with your friends, respond to this blog post, whatever you'd like! Remember your first day of lacrosse with admiration, and be sure to reflect on where you have come since that day. We will be asking our new kiddos in Panama these same questions after their first day of lacrosse, in hopes that this will be a time that they look back on one day with the same nostalgia and gratitude that we do.


Young LtN Advocates Stay Active in Sports Philanthropy

It's always inspiring to see players take initiative to support something they care about. This year, we were honored to hear that LtN advocates and Amped lacrosse players Bray, Ben, Jasper, Jack and Drew wanted to organize an event to benefit LtN's mission from their own home town.

Amped lacrosse has been an incredible supporter of and contributor to the impact LtN's programs have from dedicating their club seasons, to donating their time to volunteer at our international sites. But this year, Bray, Ben, Jasper, Jack and Drew wanted to take their role in sport philanthropy to the next level. Last month, these guys organized a youth lacrosse camp in Norfolk, VA -  not only to share their love and knowledge of the game with youth in their community, but also to benefit young players they have come to know in our Nicaraguan communities. By organizing, promoting, and coaching the camp, these players have done more than help grow the game - they have united the lacrosse communities countries apart.

Amped player, Bray, reflected on his experience the day of the camp: 

This clinic was something that I was lucky and grateful to be a part of, and it was a blast running it. The clinic benefited two things crucial to lacrosse and the lacrosse community. It helped spread the game to those who haven’t been around it and it benefited a large nonprofit organization that has a international impact on less fortunate people in the lacrosse community.

This clinic was a great learning experience for me. It helped me learn some of the great things that Lacrosse the Nations does, along with the logistics of putting together an large event. From insurance, to public relations, the clinic was a long, thought-out process that I couldn’t have put together without the help, teaching, and advising of those around me. In the end, it worked out well. We raised over $500 for Lacrosse the Nations and raised awareness for what Lacrosse the Nations does all over Hampton Roads. It was truly an honor to be able to run this clinic. 

- Bray Hollowell

Bray not only took the lead on the behind-the scenes tasks of the clinic, but he pulled together other local guys not playing for Amped yet committed to the cause of Lacrosse the Nations that want to help them with the clinic. He even recruited Amped alumni players to join in.  It's amazing how quickly the lacrosse community in Norfolk acme to together in support of the boys' efforts.  It resulted in an evening full of fun, laughter and the joining of some incredible causes.

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Becoming an Ambassador for Lacrosse the Nations' Mission

Here at LtN, we live and breath by our supporters. The passion behind the work we do is amplified by those who believe in our mission. We've witnessed the power you all have to make a change in others' lives through your belief in sport as a vehicle to do good. As witnesses to this power, we created Team LtN - a community made up of people across the country; not connected by lacrosse, but by the feeling they get when they see a kid discover their favorite sport for the first time, by their excitement in building meaningful relationships, by their understanding that there is more out there to give then to get. 

Team LtN members are ambassadors for our cause, raising awareness and funds for Lacrosse the Nations' programs. Often, raising funds for a cause can seem daunting or a chore-like. At Lacrosse the Nations, we equip our ambassadors to fundraise with activities they know and love. Check out these ideas below and see how fun it can be to spread LtN's mission as a part of Team LtN:

1. Youth Lacrosse Camp
If your team is in high school or college, put your skills to use and coordinate a youth lacrosse camp! Local elementary or middle school children often look up to older athletes and would be thrilled to spend the day learning new tricks. Hosting a youth camp can both raise money and educate children about sports, exercise, and healthy expression.

2. Food Truck Festival
We’re sure many of your team’s supporters show up to your games hungry. Is there a big tournament coming up? Reach out to food trucks in your area to attend. You can charge entrance into the festival, and the trucks can still charge their normal prices inside. Pro tip: find food trucks of all cuisines so everyone can find something to snack on!

3. Shoot-a-thon
For this fundraiser, you’ll need to rent a radar gun (or ask someone to donate one for the day). Measure how fast each of your participants can throw a lacrosse ball, and give a prize to the winner! You can charge a small fee per attempt (try $5). You’ll be amazed at how competitive participants will get!

4. Parents vs. Kids Match
Set up a night where your team’s parents play against your team. A bit of family friendly competition is totally fine when it’s for a great cause! Charge for entry to the game as well as snacks throughout the game. Provide a trophy for the winning team and host the event annually. You’ll easily get some lax dads willing to compete against their kids!

Ready to host your own fundraiser? Lacrosse the Nations uses an online platform that allows you to sell tickets while managing and tracking donations. You can simply shoot us an email, and we will help you set everything up! However, if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you could use a number of nonprofit registration platforms.

Spread the Word: As an advocate for our mission, use your power to tell others about Lacrosse the Nations. Make sure to be following our social media platforms (@laxthenations) and use the hashtag #TeamLtN!

To go the extra mile, garner support for Lacrosse the Nations through a one-to-one text messaging tool! Texting your supporters is a great way to build awareness, get feedback, and notify others about your upcoming events. Direct and genuine communication is the best way to create impact for LtN.

No matter what you do as a member of Team LtN, you are spreading the power of sport in ways we never could without you. When you are passionate about a mission, as we are with ours, that passion permeates in incredible ways.

Higher Education in Nicaragua

Today is National Higher Education Day! This day is used as a platform to encourage young students to pursue higher education, and to promote ways to tackle the challenges of receiving a degree. Here at LtN, promoting education is our priority, as the majority of the communities we work with struggle to access quality education from a young age.

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In Nicaragua, the concept of higher education is almost mystical. UNICEF reports that 29% of males, and 30.5% of females in Nicaragua never even attend primary school (elementary through 6th grade). The numbers only get worse as children age - with a staggering 65% of boys and 58% of girls not continuing on to secondary school (6th grade through high school).

Higher education is not a reality for many, as most cannot afford costs and Nicaraguan universities that are free are extremely competitive, offering limited spots. These challenges are compounded by the pressure boys receive to work instead of attending school so that they can support their families, and the assumption that girls will stay at home to watch younger siblings and take care of the house. Moreover, many young girls struggle to stay in school due to teen pregnancy - Nicaragua has highest rate of teenage births in Latin America and the highest in the world outside of Africa.


Student who participate in our lacrosse programs are some of the few who receive encouragement to pursue higher eduction.  LtN's programs use sport as a motivator for kids to attend and to do well in school. Through LtN's scholarship program, students' are eligible to receive school supplies and uniforms. This program relieves pressure on families to tackle the costs of sending their kids to school.

Through our LtN Scholar program, those who display exemplary behavior, are leaders on the field, and work at their studies have the opportunity to become an LtN Scholar.  As an LtN Scholar, students work for LtN as a coach so that they can still support their families while attending university classes to continue their education. This way, our scholars are able to take the time to complete their degree, move out of the lacrosse world into a professional career, and become a resource and a role model within their communities.

We would like to take this day to acknowledge our incredible LtN Scholars in Nicaragua and all of the hard work and dedication they put in, not only to developing young lives through our programs, but taking initiative to better their own situations and pursue their full potential. Join us in celebrating our amazing scholars on this year's National Higher Education Day:

Freddy    Studying English at the Nicaraguan Academy of Languages


Studying English at the Nicaraguan Academy of Languages

Darien   Studying Bio-Analysis at The American University


Studying Bio-Analysis at The American University

Alexander  (newest staff member!)  Studying English at the International Lincoln English Center

Alexander (newest staff member!)

Studying English at the International Lincoln English Center

Luis   Completing their Licensure in Physical Education from the Nicaragua Institute of Sports


Completing their Licensure in Physical Education from the Nicaragua Institute of Sports

David   Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports


Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports

Juan   Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports


Completing his Licensure in Physical Education at The Nicaragua Institute of Sports