Help Defense ... in Fields of Growth or on Fields of Lacrosse

By Jerry Price

The green appears to be a little faded in the far background, as it heads from the top of the mountain into the valley.

In the foreground, the green is much sharper, darker, like a lushness after a long period of spring rain has ended.

Looking front to back, the green appears to go for miles, straight up and straight out, until only a hint of gray sky can be seen above.

The topography and color suggest Ireland, or possibly even Hawaii. In reality, this green is in neither place.

No, this is the Central African nation of Uganda or at least in a picture from Uganda.

Every place in the picture that the eye goes, it is met by one shade of green or another. Every place, that is, except for the very front, where there is a bright orange, with the words "Princeton Lacrosse" visible across the front of the tank top being worn by Chad Wiedmaier.


He wears grayish shorts and no shoes or socks. His left hand is on a cross beam, his right hand at his side, as he pauses and smiles at the camera. Then, presumably, it's back to work, back to construction, back to putting a roof over a family's head and then off to the next family and the next roof.

It's a much different green - an artificial one that sits literally halfway around the world and figuratively about 100 worlds away. This green is on the campus of Harvard University, a place where only the luckiest of the lucky will get to study, to perform, or, in Wiedmaier's case on this day, compete.

The green below his feet now is in a video clip. He wears orange again, and again it says "Princeton" across the front. His formerly bare feet are wearing black cleats, and those black cleats are now flying down the far side of the field.

As he runs, he has his left hand on his lacrosse stick, his right hand in the air, directing teammate Derick Raabe down the middle. In seconds, he has gotten the ball from his own crease, across midfield and now into Raabe's stick. A second after that, it's in the back of the goal.

On Fields of Growth and fields of lacrosse, Chad Wiedmaier is making a huge difference. And the two are not unrelated.

"Chad Wiedmaier," says Sam Otoa, the Director of Games Administration for the Uganda Lacrosse Union, "is a very selfless person with a very big heart."

In the past 10 months, Wiedmaier has gone to Uganda for four weeks, come back to Princeton University to be a senior lacrosse captain - and to help a 10-year-old boy get through his mother's death - and once again shown himself to be one of the very best defenseman in college lacrosse.

"He's a wonderful human being," says Princeton coach Chris Bates. "He's different than the other guys. There's nothing wrong with being a Wall Street guy and taking that career path, but Chad has a different calling. He's a young man who understands the privilege he has and wants to give back."

Wiedmaier's trip to Uganda was with the organization Fields of Growth, run by former Notre Dame assistant coach Kevin Dugan. Fields of Growth has helped develop the sport of lacrosse in Uganda to the point where the country has been granted membership in the Federation of International Lacrosse and hopes to compete in the 2014 World Championships in Denver.

Beyond just the lacrosse, Fields of Growth is also committed to improving the educational and economic opportunities for the Ugandans. To that end, the organization has built schools, raised money and formulated a plan to bring sustainable economic independence to several villages.

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2012-04-27



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