PU's Wiedmaier on 'Fields of Growth' Uganda Trip

By Chad Wiedmaier '12

As someone interested in pursuing coaching lacrosse on the collegiate level once I graduate from Princeton next spring, the opportunity to coach lacrosse in Uganda and experience the culture this summer was an absolute privilege.

Showing up to coach the first day at the Mcerere Business School in the capital city of Kampala, I really had no idea what to expect and was a bit nervous. Within about five minutes, that nervous feeling disappeared, and I began to get to know all of the guys playing. The first practice was rather messy, but right away I could tell that there were some serious athletes with potential to be great lacrosse players.

[See Chad's photos at the Princeton web site.]

Some days there would be 60 players who showed up to participate. Some days there would be only 25. A group of about 15 showed up every day though, and these guys continued to get better every day and stand out from the rest of the players. They would teach the new players, and would even take what we taught them and put their own Ugandan flair on it.

One player named Onin, who was probably the best player of the entire group, never missed a day, and without anyone ever teaching him or his ever having seen a real game of lacrosse was pulling off just about every dodge and trick in the book. Watching players like Onin who showed up every day to practice and to listen to what you have to teach them and then to go out on the field and give every ounce of energy into their play was amazing to watch.

After about four weeks of practice three times per week, we held our own mini Ugandan National Lacrosse championship consisting of four teams. My team ended up winning 3-1 in the final, but the amount of energy and passion I saw that day from all the players and all the teams was something I have never experienced in my entire life.

I have never seen such intensity in any form of athletics that I have coached, participated in or watched. So many people came to watch the tournament, and since then the sport has been gaining substantial media attention. All of the players from all the teams have made it a goal of theirs to make the Ugandan National team that goes to the world games in 2014 in Denver, Colo. To see them succeed in doing so would make me feel extremely proud.

I could honestly talk about my experiences in Uganda and about all of the people that I met for hours, but hopefully some of the pictures will speak for themselves. It was overall one of the greatest experiences I have had thus far in my life, and for that I am forever grateful to Kevin Dugan and Fields of Growth International for giving me the chance to coach the sport I love to such an amazing group of people. You can help join Kevin Dugan's efforts not only to support lacrosse in Uganda, but also for many more things such as sponsoring a child to pay for their school fees.

You can find out more at fieldsofgrowthintl.org.

2011-09-08



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