Lacrosse is the conduit. The field is the platform.
Lacrosse the Nations provides the only source of organized, extracurricular programming focused entirely on promoting physical activity, nutrition, health, and education available to the 120+ elementary students of Playa Potrero, Costa Rica.
PE classes are offered to students in grades 1-6. Currently, each grade receives between 1 and 2 classes per week. These classes, which are 40 minutes long, are built into the children’s regular school day and are led by our Head Coach with the assistance of LtN staff and volunteers.
The coaches and volunteers follow the Life Skills Curriculum and use sports, including lacrosse, and other fun games to promote exercise and health while also incorporating important lessons focused on building skills such as teamwork, respect, and sharing. Although the curriculum is shared throughout all grades, classes are taught to one grade at a time and lessons vary depending on the age-level of each class.
Classes are taught entirely in Spanish and can have anywhere between 10-25 students depending on the grade. LtN’s coach and volunteers are in charge of tracking important metrics, such as attendance and behavior, that are reported to parents quarterly and used to determine a student’s eligibility for a scholarship via the LtN Scholars Program each December.
After school lacrosse practice takes place at the same time Monday-Thursday, rain or shine, and can have anywhere from 7-30 players. These practices are open to children ages 7 and up and aim to teach the basics of lacrosse while simultaneously providing a fun and positive outlet for physical activity during the afternoons when students would otherwise have an abundance of free time.
Each week focuses on a different skill, and during our 1-1.5 hour long practices players are led through a warm-up, explanation and demonstration of the skill by the coaches, and then encouraged to put that skill to the test in a series of fun drills and games. The last part of practice is dedicated to a group-wide fun game like dodgeball or scrimmaging.
Sometimes the coach will split up the group into boys and girls if there are even numbers to allow for smaller groups; it is also common to separate the youngest laxers from the older kids for safety reasons. Through our Attendance Program we encourage participation by rewarding those players with the best attendance, participation, and greatest improvement on a quarterly basis with fun, lacrosse-related prizes.
LtN Scholars Program
The LtN Scholars program was founded to ensure that money is never a deciding factor in the continuing education of a deserving student. Inasmuch, LtN provides exemplary graduates of LtN’s PE program with a $200 scholarship before the start of their first year of high school (called colegio.) Pending good grades and attendance throughout their first year, LtN Scholars are eligible to continue receiving scholarships at the start of each year until they graduate.
Eligibility for scholarships is determined by the student’s attendance of LtN’s PE program. Those students with the highest rates of attendance and who also exemplify the qualities of LtN Scholars: excellent behavior, strong leadership, and academic promise, are then compared based on their final grades, which ultimately decide who is awarded a scholarship. LtN Costa Rica awarded its first scholarship in January 2014 and hopes to award between 3-4 scholarships in January 2015.
Why educational scholarships?
Like many small towns in Costa Rica, the public elementary school in Potrero ends after 6th grade (~age 12.) Students who wish to continue their education have the option to attend one of two public colegios in the surrounding area, both located over an hour away by bus. Even though the schools are public, students must pay for their uniforms, textbooks, and other school-related materials.
Because the school year begins in February, expenses related to colegio (approximately $200/year) form part of the “cuesta de enero” – a January budget crisis many families experience after spending all of their savings in December on the holidays, taxes, and insurance fees.
Unfortunately, it is common for families to decide against sending a child to colegio for the full five years because they cannot take on the additional financial burden, especially with multiple children per household. Without education as an outlet, these kids feel pressure from their families to work, but the unemployment rate in Potrero is at a staggering 40%, leaving very few options for inexperienced and uneducated teenagers. With no other opportunities, many men get sucked into the dangerous world of alcohol and drug abuse, while the majority of women in Potrero have their first child by the age of 18.
Please click here if you are interested in making a donation to the LtN Scholars Program and funding the education of one of our brightest and most committed student-athletes!
Through the incredible generosity of our Team Partners and participants of our Team Trips Program, LtN Costa Rica plays with 100% donated equipment. We play mostly with men’s sticks and tennis balls and minimal checking, although we frequently give out fiddle sticks, gloves, and cleats to our players with the best attendance or who have shown the most improvement. Currently, the average age of a Potrero laxer is 10, so our goal is to keep the game as safe as possible while encouraging them to play at a fast pace and use good technique.