Two Years in Nica

by Daniel Lewis, Senior Program Director (Nicaragua)

Two years is a long time. When our Executive Director, Javier, asked me to write about my last two years with Lacrosse the Nations (LtN), I really had no idea even where to start. LtN has impacted me so much and in such different ways that I can’t do it justice in a short blog, but I’ll try to hit the main points.
First, I would like to say a sincere thank you to everyone who supported me, donated, or volunteered with LtN in the past two years. For me LtN is a special kind of organization because of the people involved. From the chairman of the board down to a volunteer who could only come to a practice or two, every single person I’ve met through LtN has bought in to our mission and culture as an organization. That’s a community that I’m proud and thankful to be a part of.
I probably have a story about almost every LtN student-athlete in Nicaragua, so I can’t pick just one for this blog. I will say that it has been a privilege to teach and coach these young people. I truly hope that lacrosse has brought them the same joy it has given me, and that my coaching has taught some of the same lessons that I learned while playing.

I have changed immensely as a person in the past two years, but the two most important lessons I’ve learned are to keep perspective and how to let go. I sometimes lost sight of the long term goals and progress we were making in the day to day grind. I could find myself focusing on the fact that today’s practice wasn’t really better than yesterday’s and forgetting to see how far we’d come. Working with LtN has helped me to look past one bad day or missed expectation. I also learned that sometimes you have to give up control. Training and shifting responsibility to lead practice to our coaches and LtN Scholars was one of the biggest and most lasting impacts I’ve had, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy to step aside and watch.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a story. A couple of months ago I started going to Club Hope early before practice to play a little goalie (poorly), so some of the kids could practice shooting. That first day Juan Carlos was one of the players. He has, probably, the best shot of anyone on the team, but he still only managed to score on me twice in about fifty shots. Afterwards, I gave Juan a few tips on shooting on a goalie, especially to work on his aim. Bounce shots, shoot low, and aim for corners. When I showed up the following Monday Juan Carlos was waiting, ready to go. I lost track of how many times Juan scored. I’m proud of Juan going home, deliberately practicing without me looking over his shoulder, and coming back measurable improved, but some small part of me feels left behind. I think this embodies my experience these last few weeks in Nicaragua. I’ve spent my time coaching, and now I’m incredibly excited to come back to visit and see how far behind all of Lacrosse the Nations has left me.