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

"Chad has very high energy," Otoa says. "He did everything he could to communicate with the players, which was not an easy thing to do. His enthusiasm, friendly and open persona and patience made him very popular with the players and many people he met on his trip, on and off the field."

For Wiedmaier, the trip to Uganda was more than just a four-week pseudo vacation to a place he'd never been before.

It's had a profound effect on him, as a person, as a student, as an athlete. His outlook has been shaped by his experience with Fields of Growth, and it's given him a renewed sense of obligation, and of appreciation, for what he has here in the United States and at Princeton University.

Wiedmaier's final season in lacrosse has been extraordinary, even by the standards of a player who has been first-team All-Ivy League each of his first three seasons and who was the seventh pick in the 2012 Major League Lacrosse draft. Beyond that resume, he has upped his game to a new level as this season has gone on.

During the last few weeks, he has played as well as any player at any position in college lacrosse, and he has been the backbone of a defense that ranks third in Division I, allowing 6.7 goals per game.

He has played with ferocity, and he has been everywhere on the field. He is fifth in Division I in caused turnovers per game, and he has routinely wiped out the opposing team's top scorers.

"He's really evolved as a more compete defenseman," Bates says. "He's a great sliding defenseman. He gets a ton of ground balls. He's ultra-competitive, and his motor is always running. He's an exceptional cover defenseman. We're spoiled as a result. We always have confidence in his match-up. It's like having a great cover corner in football. It affects the rest of what we can do."

Watching Wiedmaier this season, it's easy to see his play as an extension of his experience last summer.

"It's hard to tell people how lucky you are, to go to a school like Princeton, to be on a team that a million people would want to be on, to play a sport for fun in such amazing venues," Wiedmaier says.

"You can tell people and they can know it, but you need to see how the rest of the world is, to see what their life is, their daily life, that you have so many things that make your life so much easier, that you have so many opportunities that so many other people don't. It's made me come back and say that I'm not going to complain about anything for one second. It's given me a better perspective on things. I'm really lucky to be where I am. I will never feel entitled or arrogant."

What he saw in Uganda, and the people he met there, are never far from him now that he's back in Princeton.

"What has been special about Chad and his involvement is that it has been sustained and continuous," Dugan says. "He has stayed in touch with his friends in Uganda, and he has continued to support the program. Some volunteers get an initial rush from the service, and then they come home and it slowly fades. Chad has transcended that. I think in part it's a result of his social justice education at Delbarton and Princeton. It's in his blood."

Wiedmaier's trip to Division I lacrosse wasn't much different than that of so many others who came before him.

He was born in California and lived in Colorado until he was seven, and he moved to New Jersey when his parents got divorced. He was a hockey and football player as well as he grew up, but he can trace to second grade the game and position he now plays.

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2012-04-27



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