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Javier Silva

Executive Director
jsilva@lacrossethenations.org

Javier took over as LtN’s Executive Director in September 2015. He has been with the organization since 2012, spending two years volunteering as Program Director in Nicaragua before becoming Director of Programs and Marketing.

Javier was born in Colombia and moved to the US when he was young. His first introduction to lacrosse came in his hometown of Stamford, CT.  During his junior and senior years, Javier helped establish a lacrosse program at his high school.  It is where he fell in love with the game.

Javier went on to play for four years on the club team at the University of Connecticut. After graduation, he spent time in the business world before moving to Sweden to obtain his MSc in International Marketing & Brand Management from Lund University. During his time in Sweden, Javier traveled throughout Scandinavia as a player/coach for the Lund lacrosse team. After graduating in June 2011, Javier learned of LtN and knew he wanted to get involved.

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Brooke Wilson

Communications and Development Director
brooke@lacrossethenations.org

Brooke joined LtN as the Communications and Development Director in January 2018. Prior to her joining the U.S. staff, Brooke spent a year volunteering as a Program Director in Nicaragua. There, Brooke handled LtN's on-site communications and began the first All-Female lacrosse program. Nicaragua was where she fell in love with LtN's mission and people.

Brooke hails from Frederick, Maryland and graduated from the University of Richmond. At UR, Brooke received her B.A. in Healthcare Studies as a four-year Division I student-athlete for Richmond Women’s Lacrosse. In her free time, Brooke enjoys coaching high school lacrosse, yoga, and travel.

Norman Velasquez

Country Director, Nicaragua
norman@lacrossethenations.org

Norman became the Nicaragua Country Director in October 2015. He has been with LtN since 2010 and was one of the first Nicaraguan coaches at the School of Hope in La Chureca. Norman became one of LtN’s best coaches and a true role model and leader for the kids in our programs and his fellow coaches. Having him take over as Country Director was the next logical step.

In his own words, “The past six years have been more than incredible. Though I must admit when I was first offered the job as a lacrosse coach I thought about it a lot, and before accepting I thought the sport was too violent for the community (La Chureca) where we were going to be working, a community very susceptible to violence. However, I took the job, and accepted the challenge. My favorite part of my experiences with LtN over the last few years has been my time training our LtN Scholars and coaches to help them become better coaches. To see how my own students can reach goals that I, nor they, could have hoped for. To see them teach to other kids the lessons, that for years, we have taught them is amazing.

I have seen a lot of change since I started with LtN – in the community, in our students and within LtN itself. For me, its been like a ladder that I’ve climbed rung by rung marked by every achievement I’ve had either with students, parents, coaches, teachers, or volunteers.

I’m very proud of being a part of and lead such an amazing group of coaches and volunteers who work to reach way beyond our goals. I’m thankful for all the support we receive everyday."

Natalie Wood

Director, Charlottesville VA

Natalie hails from Charlottesville, Virginia, where she played lacrosse at Albemarle High School. She was a starter on the 1996 State Championship team and later went on to play at Longwood University from 1997-2001. While at Longwood, she was a four-time IWLCA All-American and is Longwood’s career leader in both total points scored and assists, and ranks third in goals scored.

After college, she returned to Charlottesville and began teaching 6th grade Language Arts at Jack Jouett Middle School, where she still teaches today. She spent five years coaching at the high school level, first  as head varsity coach at The Covenant School for two seasons, followed by three years at Albemarle, one as head JV coach and two as varsity head coach. During this time, she earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the last eight years, she has coached players of all ages and worked with Blue Ridge Lacrosse Club, Seminole League, Albemarle Girls Lacrosse League, and YMCA. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, running, and reading. She is very excited about the opportunity to work with LtN and can’t wait to get out on the lacrosse field this year!


Nicaragua coaching staff

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Luis Orlando Quintero López

Chiquilistagua Program Coordinator, Nicaragua

Luis Orlando has been with LtN since September 2012. He began teaching grades 2-6 (over 300 students) and assisting in monitoring our nutrition program at the school.

Luis currently teaches over 700 students across all grade levels and assists with the development of all coaches and LtN Scholars at the Public School of Chiquilistagua.

Luis is happily married and has one son, Octavio, whom he loves dearly. In his free time Luis loves to read, play and watch sports.  Luis has a passion for physical education and hopes to be a sports reporter one day. Through LtN’s Coach’s Scholarship Program, Luis is pursuing two degrees, one in Journalism at the University of Managua (UdeM) and a bachelor’s in Physical Education at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN).

Luis says his time with LtN has been “an incredible experience. In the time I’ve been with LtN I’ve seen a significant change in our students through the LtN curriculum. Lacrosse has served as an example to improve the behavior of our students. They have learned to play an aggressive sport with their classmates.

I’m grateful for all of the opportunities LtN has provided me over the years. Opportunities I’ve taken full advantage of to improve professionally and academically.”

Juan De La Cruz Davila

Chiquilistagua Upper School Coach, Nicaragua

Juan is a former student at the Public School of Chiquilistagua and one of our first LtN Scholars. In 2014 Juan worked with Country Director Norman at Club Hope, learning to be a coach first hand. In the 2015 school year Juan worked along side Coach Luis in the lower school of Chiquilistagua working with students grade 4-6.  Juan teaches over 400 students in grades 7-11 alongside coach Luis.

Juan is happily married and has one daughter. In his free time Juan plays a lot of soccer and is very active in his church as a member of the band.  Through LtN’s Scholars Program, Juan received his certificate as an electrical automotive engineer and is currently pursuing his degree in Physical Education at the Nicaragua Institute of Sport (IND).

When asked about LtN Juan had this to say: “The first time I saw the sport I thought it was very innovative, rough, interesting and I thought I could be really good at it. I have learned so much from my experience, from the coaches and the kids. I love that the kids have trusted me so much so that I can help them with any issues or problems they have.“

David Jimenez

Chiquilistagua Lower School Coach, Nicaragua

David graduated from the Public School of Chiquilistagua in December 2015 and began coaching with LtN at the start of the 2016 school year. Through LtN’s Coach’s Scholarship Program, David is studying Physical Education at the Nicaraguan Institute of Sport (IND). In his free time, David enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his family and friends.  

When David first saw lacrosse he  thought: “What a ridiculous sport, no way I would ever like it. But since we played it as part of PE class, I participated and slowly but surely I became more and more interested. Now I have the same goal that my coaches had with me – to motivate the kids I work with every day. I hope to learn a lot from the other coaches so I can run good classes and practices to our kids.“

Darien

Darien Silva

Chiquilistagua All-Girls Coach, Nicaragua

Darien graduated from the Public School of Chiquilistagua in December 2015. Through LtN’s Coach’s Scholarship Program, she has continued her education at American University in Managua, studying Clinical Bio-Analysis on track to becoming a nurse. Upon graduation from high school, Darien assisted in LtN’s Chiquilistagua’s lacrosse programs, later becoming a head coach at the start of our all-girls program in 2017. In her free time, Darien likes spending time with her friends, dancing, and chatting on her phone.

Darien reflects on her time coaching stating: “When I saw lacrosse for the first time, I thought it was something weird, something I did not think I would like as much as I do now. Being involved in lacrosse has been a beautiful experience to share with younger and older girls. And now [coaching the girls team], I love it more than ever before!”

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Alexander Castro

Club Hope Program Coordinator & Head Coach, Nicaragua

Alexander graduated from the Salvador Mendieta Institute in 2013. After high school, he pursued an occupation as a certified electrician, and later as a cellular repair technician. Outside of his career pursuits, Alexander is an avid runner and sports enthusiast who loves working with kids. Upon his discovery of an open position with LtN, Alexander knew he had to become a part of the organization. Alexander joined LtN's staff as the coach at Club Hope in spring of 2018. In addition to his role with Lacrosse the Nations, Alexander hopes to continue his passion of studying English through LtN’s Coach’s Scholarship Program.

When asked about his first month on the job, Alexander responded:

"In the short time I have been working with the kids, they've had a huge impact on me . . . They don't just see these as sports and/or scholarship programs - they see the people they participate in these programs with as a group of friends they can call family. Because they've come to see me as family, I have the opportunity to help them make better life decisions, while letting them know that they are the future, and that they will be role models for many other kids."

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Freddy Tellez

Club Hope Lower School Coach, Nicaragua

Freddy graduated from Chiquilistagua Public School in 2016, where he played lacrosse and continued on to become an LtN Scholar and later Assistant Coach. Freddy was promoted to Head Coach at Club Hope in January of 2019, and is currently in his second year at university studying English. Outside of lacrosse and his studies, he enjoys playing soccer, listening to music and hanging out with his brother (and fellow LtN-er) and friends.

When he first saw a lacrosse stick Freddy thought, “What are those sticks for? Fishing? Catching butterflies? But when the coaches explained the game I got really excited. At first though, I almost gave up because it was so hard, but I kept going and soon I got really good. Now, every time I am out on the field I have a great time.” Freddy is honored and excited to continue working with Lacrosse the Nations programs and the kids he has gotten to know and love as his LtN family.


current program directors

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Caroline Rath

Program Director, Panama

Caroline has joined LtN as a Program Director for our inaugural trips to Panama in summer of 2018. She will be breaking new ground, establishing LtN’s first platform in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

A native of Greenville, DE, Caroline graduated from Archmere Academy as a four-year letter winner in lacrosse, field hockey, and swimming. She continued her academic and athletic career playing field hockey at The Ohio State University, where she received her B.S. in Sports Industry through the College of Education while minoring in Business Administration. During her time playing Field Hockey at Ohio State, Caroline was a four-year starter, captain and honors scholar-athlete garnering numerous Big Ten and NCAA accolades.

Caroline credits her volunteer work in a community at the St. Mary Magdalene School in Columbus, Ohio, for leading her down the path of joining LtN. There, she gained further knowledge of the Spanish language and realized that the more time she spent volunteering, the more satisfied she became personally. This experience ultimately led Caroline to the conclusion that a fulfilling life in non-profit was for her.

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Maria McDonough

Program Director, Panama

Maria joined LtN in June 2019. She was first connected to LtN in high school when she had the opportunity to view its work first-hand in Costa Rica. Maria's connection has continued to grow through the volunteer experiences of her teammates on the University of Richmond's Women's Lacrosse team, all of which have led her to this opportunity.

After meeting students from around the world at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, Maria realized that her passions were concentrated in understanding various cultures and helping to decrease the spread of global inequality. She took these passions forward in college and studied International Studies at the University of Richmond, concentrating in Global Development and minoring in French and Anthropology. Though she played Division I lacrosse all four years and garnered two A-10 conference championships, she is most proud of her four-year scholar-athlete status and the valuable lessons she learned on and off the field with the help of her teammates.

A summer interning in the most underprivileged area of Paris confirmed Maria's interests in the nonprofit sector and affirmed her desire to continue to put smiles on people's faces. Now, she has decided to challenge herself by gaining a new language skill in Panama as she works with LtN to benefit the Bocas community as well as her own personal development. She hopes that her experience with collegiate lacrosse and youth development will aid her in this endeavor.


Summer Interns

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Rachel Ziemba

Intern, Panama

Rachel is a rising junior on the women’s lacrosse team at the University of Richmond where she majors in Biology and minors in Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies. Always looking for ways to volunteer her time, whether it be in Richmond or in her hometown of Syracuse, NY, she has become a firm believer in the power of meaningful service as a way to affect positive change in the lives of others. 

Hoping to pursue a career in medicine one day, she credits her passion for helping people along with her love of lacrosse as inspirations for volunteering with LtN in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The opportunity to teach lacrosse, meet new people, experience a new culture, and improve her Spanish-speaking skills all in one summer was far too exciting to pass up!

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Rob Driscoll

Intern, Panama

Rob will be a senior this fall at College of Wooster in Ohio where he studies Sociology and Spanish while also captaining the Fighting Scots lacrosse team. He is a native of Swampscott Massachusetts.

While attending boarding school at The Governor’s Academy where he played lacrosse as well as football, Rob got his first taste of volunteerism and exposure to Central America. Through three trips to Guatemala with Hope’s In, a nonprofit that supports families in the Guatemala City trash dump communities, he discovered his passion to help others in situations of serious need. After spending a semester of his junior year in Argentina studying human rights and social movements in Buenos Aires accompanied by a month long internship with SERPAJ, (Servicio, Paz y Justicia) Rob heard of Lacrosse the Nations and knew that it would be a perfect fit for him incorporating the Spanish language, helping others and lacrosse.

With his past experiences and future with LtN, Rob hopes to live in South America and continue his non-profit work after graduating in 2020.

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Jordan Marcus

Intern, Panama

Jordan is a rising junior at Princeton University where she is currently majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is a Richmond, Virginia native and attended The Collegiate School, where she first heard about LtN.

She is continuing her athletic career at Princeton as a member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team and, as a result of the program, has found a passion for service and strives to actively fulfill their motto "Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.”  She is very excited to be a new member of the LtN family in Panama. 

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Gunnar Nemeth

Intern, Panama

Gunnar joined the LtN team in June of 2019. Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, United States Gunnar has played lacrosse for most of his life. He attended Brandywine High School where started his senior year, and graduated with All-Conference and All-State awards.

Gunnar then enrolled at York College of Pennsylvania where he walked on to the nationally ranked team and played for one year.

While at York, Gunnar has traveled with college study abroad programs and has lived in Colombia for a short period. He now plans to graduate a semester early with a degree in International Relations and continue his career in lacrosse while traveling the world.

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Will Cogan

Intern, Washington D.C.

Will joined team LtN in the summer of 2019 as one of our summer interns. Prior to joining our staff, Will was apart one of our first groups to travel down to Panama to lay the groundwork for our programs in Panama.

Will hails from Fairfax, Virginia and just finished playing on the varsity team at Christopher Newport University. While he finishes classes he will be on the coaching staff as a student assistant coach. Will is studying to get his B.A. in Marketing. In his free time, Will enjoys coaching his summer lacrosse team, playing xbox, and fishing.


site Volunteers

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Jake Myers

Volunteer, Nicaragua

Jake is a graduate of Christopher Newport University, playing varsity lacrosse during his collegiate career from 2009-2013. Jake continued working with the CNU lacrosse program as a Graduate Assistant in Fall 2013 and later as a play-by-play announcer from 2014-2018.

Jake has pursued a career in education, spending five years as a science teacher at both the high school and middle school levels. He currently teaches middle school science at Lincoln International Academy in Managua, Nicaragua, which is what brought him to LtN.

Outside of his career, Jake moved to Nicaragua because of the legendary beaches (he enjoys surfing - “poorly”), the amazing people, the chance to learn some Spanish and explore, and in hopes of working with LtN.