Florida Goalie Wilcox Taught Lacrosse in Nicaragua
From Press Release
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – During the last week in July, Mary-Sean Wilcox ran up-and-down a worn patch of land, used by the locals as an athletic field. Avoiding the occasional hole in the ground and shards of broken glass that littered the area, the Gators junior goalkeeper scooped-up ground balls and dished assists to the players around her, all while communicating with teammates that didn't speak the same language.
Instead of spending one of the last weeks of her summer vacation at her home in Lutherville, Maryland, Wilcox traveled to Nicaragua as part of a service trip led by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Over the course of the week, Wilcox and other Division 1 lacrosse players from around the country spent their time teaching the game of lacrosse to children.
"We partnered with the organization Lacrosse the Nations and brought down a bunch of sticks and other equipment," said Wilcox. "I was quite surprised how good the kids were. They put their own spin on the game which was great to see."
Lacrosse the Nations, an organization founded by a pair of former collegiate lacrosse players, Brand Corrigan and Brett Hughes, utilize lacrosse as a platform to teach kids valuable life skills and health education.
The organization has programs set up in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and in multiple states across the U.S. Wilcox mainly served at two different sites while on the trip, splitting time between the cities Chiquilistagua and La Chureca.
|» LM Q&A with Mary-Sean Wilcox|
|"It was cool to see some new things they brought to the game that we could take home with us," said Wilcox. (Photo courtesy of Mary-Sean Wilcox)|
"We worked at a public school in Chiquilistagua that ranged from elementary to high school kids," said Wilcox. "While there, we put together some drills, played games and just made connections with the kids."
After the team finished hanging out with the kids from the school, the group traveled about an hour to La Chureca, where an after school program called Club Hope was held. Club Hope was run by Lacrosse the Nations and taught kids valuable life lessons through the game of lacrosse, according to Wilcox.
Wilcox said that although she couldn't speak Spanish, she learned to bond and communicate with the kids in a different way.
"I didn't know many words when I got there, but the kids loved affection, and would constantly want us to carry them on our shoulders and give them big hugs," she said. "They loved it, and you could tell they enjoyed us being there."
In addition to the field not being what she was used to playing on, the kids taught her the "Nicaraguan way" to play lacrosse.
"When we played, they would bounce the ball through our legs, then run around us and grab the ball," said the Florida goalkeeper. "We weren't ready for it; it was cool to see some new things they brought to the game that we could take home with us."
Seventeen percent of the population in Nicaragua lives in extreme poverty, forcing the kids to adapt and play a modified game of lacrosse with just a stick and a tennis ball – something Wilcox hopes to see change in the near future.
"Despite not having much, they cherished everything they owned," Wilcox said. "When they get a stick, it's the biggest thing to them."
As she begins to prepare for the 2015 season and dons the Orange and Blue on the freshly trimmed grass at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, Wilcox won't forget the glass-filled field in Nicaragua and the kids of La Chureca.
"[The kids] made me appreciate everything I have," she said. "I would love to be able to provide them with more equipment because we Americans have so much."
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