The progression of World War II disrupted millions of lives, displaced millions of people, and changed the course of history. It sent families from almost every country that it touched to the far corners of the world and set in motion varies new paths through life. One such country that was affected was that of Latvia, and what began as a family attempting to flee the crackdown on local resistance, almost 80 years later has turned into a story of reconnection and triumph through sport. Proving that you can go home again, even if your home has been different since you were born.
Trey Kailunas owes his start to his Grandparents, residents of Latvia at the time that the Germans were making their advance towards Russia, they like many others we’re forced to flee their homes in order to escape persecution for being part of the Latvian rebellion. Ironically, their family wound up in Germany awaiting sponsorship to another country. That country offered turned out to be the United States, and when given a selection of states in which to go to, they chose to go to Michigan assuming that the weather cycles would be not uncommon to those they were used to in Latvia.
Two generations later, Trey was born much like any other kid in the Grand Rapids area, going to school, playing sports and it’s those sports that light his story full circle. A natural lacrosse player, he soon turned his passion for the sport into educational progression, as he was given sponsorship to a University in Florida, and later to play for Detroit Mercy. A standout star in his own right, he kept his hopes up and being picked up by a national team, which coincidentally wind up being team Latvia. As his grandparents were Latvian citizens upon birth, it opened up his capability to play for the team.
Finding out about his pick on Instagram, his Latvian Grandparents were some of the first individuals to be notified after he had learned of his future team. Now, not only has his love for lacrosse provided him with hours of enjoyment throughout high school, a full ride into college, and playing across the country, he now gets to enjoy playing for the country of his heritage. He attributes the opportunities that he received in the united states that allow him to eventually come back around to supporting Latvia through his sports capabilities.
A fresh member of the team, language has thus far proved to be the main barrier, but he is slowly picking up on Latvian lacrosse terms, as well as his teammates putting in a strong effort to learn how to communicate effectively in English. What began is the story of struggle and hardship, doing all that one can to establish a life, wound up being the life goal of a young Grand Rapids resident, proud to support both the country he was born in and the country that let him here. There will be many in the local area cheering on his progress, and we look forward to seeing what the future brings for this bright lacrosse star.