LtN KO17 Blog
On the week of February 19th, 2022 — Kylie Ohlmiller embarked on a trip to a country she had never been before. Alongside her younger sister, Taryn, and her best friend of 25 years, Hana, Kylie gathered 3 equipment bags full of heads, shafts, and goodies and headed to JFK Airport.
Kylie, Taryn, and Hana were heading to Bocas del Toro, Panama for a trip to work with Lacrosse the Nations. LtN is a nonprofit organization that works with children in Central & South America to provide them with access to additional education, resources & community through sport, and ultimately introduce them to lacrosse.
Lacrosse the Nations was kind enough to provide KO17 Lacrosse with a fundraising page to help contribute to our travel expenses to Panama — while Kylie & KO17 Lacrosse held an equipment drive to collect sticks, protective gear, clothing and all kinds of goods that the LtN staff would be able to distribute amongst their programs. The KO17 Fam showed UP when it came to their donations, and we couldn’t be more thankful & appreciative to all who contributed.
The trio from Islip would land in Panama to be greeted by yet another of our closest friends from Islip - Caleigh DeCaprio. Caleigh is working for Lacrosse the Nations and living in Bocas del Toro full time this year, alongside our new friend, Maria McDonough. These two incredible women welcomed us with open arms and created the most thoughtful itinerary for our KO17 Lacrosse trip, not only showing us the beauty that is this vast archipelago in the Caribbean - but also fully immersing us in the culture that they and their community live and breathe every single day.
Throughout the course of one week, we experienced everything that Bocas del Toro has to offer — from hikes across islands to hidden beachfronts, to eating every meal on the docks yards away from crystal blue water, to taking a tour through a historic cacao farm & preservative rain forest, to horseback riding through sloth-filled forests on the beach. Each day was jam packed with sights and activities that we can truthfully say we had never had the chance to experience prior to this trip; and can now gladly say we are so lucky to have real [and photo] memories of.
On top of the exciting adventures that Caleigh & Maria planned for us — we were able to go to lacrosse practice and meet the kids whose smiles were so contagious it truly was an experience we will never forget. We played Hungry Hungry Hippos & ran relay races, we tried goalie sticks for the first time [thanks to those in our KO17 Fam who donated those], we scrimmaged with Hana hopping in on the action [full speed or no speed at all, naturally], and Kylie and Taryn even played goalie while we worked on our shots [not well, but hey, trying new things is always good!].
We met some new young friends as we spent one morning along the local beach cleaning up trash and plastic. We brushed up on our Spanish, with the help of our friends Xia, Silas, Anis, Seta, and of course - Coach Maria, who impressively became fluent simply by living in Bocas for the last 2.5 years! We learned that many of the players in the LtN program have families from all over the world and speak many different languages, so fully absorbing some of the common terms used on the lacrosse field to communicate with one another during practices was one of our favorite parts of the lacrosse experience!
During our last night in Bocas, we went around the dinner table at a lovely sushi restaurant on the water and shared our ‘roses and thorns’ of the weeklong trip. When we say it was difficult to think of our thorns, it truly was. What was really special about this discussion, though, was learning that every one of us shared a unique rose. Each one of us had a different highest moment from the trip to share with the group— and to us, that means the trip was quite successful!
We were grateful to have been able to bring what we could from those who support KO17 Lacrosse to Panama during this trip with Lacrosse the Nations. On top of that, we are so incredibly indebted to the staff & kids at LtN for the experiences and perspective they gave us this February Break.
Lacrosse is something that we can all share a bond over, smile about, create memories playing, and learn about each other through. It’s such a special thing that gathers us all together — whether it is 4 girls from a small town on Long Island reunited as adults in Panama to coach the sport they all fell in love with as kids. Or something that allows a small company like KO17 Lacrosse to reach a community it may have never had the opportunity to without an organization as dedicated as Lacrosse the Nations. Lacrosse is that thing that no matter what language we speak, or what country we are from, or who we are — we can all gather around it and smile while we have the chance to play it together.
It’s special. And that’s what this trip with Lacrosse the Nations will forever be remembered as by us — so special. Thank you for accepting us into your home & showing us the beauty that is Bocas, LtN.
Nuestros corazones están llenos.
Muchas gracias, Lacrosse the Nations!