To continue our series highlighting lacrosse visionaries, we asked Javier Silva, Executive Director at Lacrosse the Nations, to tell the inspiring story and success of his program . . .
Lacrosse the Nations is a non-profit organization that uses the lacrosse field to teach life skills and promote education, while creating opportunity for children in impoverished communities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Our after-school lacrosse programs focus on the principles that we as athletes learn and acquire from playing sports—often outside the specifics of the game. These include work ethic, motivation, response to failure, teamwork, and confidence. Moreover, we use our lacrosse programs to help increase attendance and promote the importance of education by providing annual university and high-school scholarships to our coaches and student athletes.
While lacrosse is critical to our work, our mission is not to develop great players (though it happens and we love it). Rather, our goal is to use the sport as a platform to teach the importance of education and provide opportunities for players to take their education to the next level. There are many reasons why we exclusively use Swax Lax balls at our after-school lacrosse programs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Here are a few:
They are perfect for kids who have never played
Most of the kids we work with in Costa Rica and Nicaragua had never been exposed to lacrosse. In order for us to achieve our mission, we have to get them excited about the sport. Using a Swax Lax ball makes kids feel confident from the moment they pick up a stick. As a result, this year we have been able to attract more new players.
They challenge our experienced players
Before we started using Swax Lax balls, we only used tennis balls and bouncy practice balls. None of them was ever heavy enough and our players struggled to develop their skills, which is necessary for them to stay engaged in our programs. Switching to Swax Lax balls has given our experienced players the ability to improve and challenge themselves to get better.
They are practical for the environment we play in
We struggled a lot when using tennis and pinkie balls. We would either lose them in the woods around the school or they’d break after one game from playing on rough terrain. Swax Lax balls don’t bounce so they stay nearby when a pass is dropped or a shot is wide. They are also surprisingly durable. Our fields in Nicaragua are either dusty and rocky or a concrete basketball court. Our kids are relentless and the balls get banged up, but they hold strong.
They complement the style of lacrosse we play
We play a unique version of lacrosse. Our fields are about the size of a basketball court and our goals are small and made of PVC. If we were to play with real lacrosse balls, the goals wouldn’t last a minute. Using Swax Lax balls ensures that our players get the most out of every rep while also protecting our goals from getting destroyed. It's important to keep our equipment in top form since getting lacrosse gear to our programs in Central America is quite expensive.
When we were first introduced to Swax Lax, it seemed too good to be true, and I was a bit skeptical. However, after a year of using their products, it was clear they were the perfect fit. In fact, we are having approximately 100 balls sent down for the 2017 LtN Cup, our annual tournament and fundraiser in Nicaragua. Swax Lax has changed the way we play and has been a huge benefit for our programs. We can not praise them enough.
Support Lacrosse the Nations & the 2017 LtN Cup
The LtN Cup is our annual year-end tournament held in Nicaragua. On November 18, 2017, 60 student athletes from our two programs in Managua will use the lacrosse field to raise money to support LtN's programs that provide educational and professional opportunities for players and coaches.
Story and photos shared by Javier Silva of Lacrosse the Nations.