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

"There was a kid in my brother's grade, a year above me, and he had a long pole," Wiedmaier says. "He'd hold it straight up in the air and run down the field, holding it over his head. I thought that was so cool. I got a long pole after that. I never cut the shaft. I refused to cut it, even though it was way too big."

He attended Delbarton, the New Jersey lacrosse powerhouse that has produced so many great players, and he began to open eyes in his own right.

Eventually, his college choice came to Princeton or Georgetown, and he decided to follow Delbarton alums like Dan Cocoziello and Jack and Chris McBride to Princeton.

"Cocoziello was my idol," he says. "I remember watching him and thinking that I wanted to be able to play like him one day."

Wiedmaier became an immediate starter at with the Tigers, as well as a first-team All-Ivy and second-team All-America pick as a freshman, when Princeton reached as high as No. 1 in the polls. A fall knee injury cost him the first six games of the spring of his sophomore year, but he was still first-team All-Ivy and second-team All-America.

He was first-team All-Ivy and third-team All-America a year ago. Among the highlights of his Princeton career have been his head-to-head match-ups with Cornell's two-time first-team All-America attackman Rob Pannell, last year's Division I Player of the Year.

"Chad is an incredibly talented defenseman, and all year I look forward to going against him," says Pannell, like Wiedmaier a finalist for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, which recognizes excellence in the "4 C's" of character, competition, classroom and community.

"He is the best of the best at his position, and it has been a battle, but a pleasure, going up against him for the past three years. It makes it that much more fun and challenging when playing against a quick and strong defenseman of Chad's caliber. It has also made the Princeton rivalry even more exciting for everyone with the match-up between Chad and me, and I'm sure that it has made that game more special for both of us as well. The games are always close, and you can usually count on Chad and I having some pretty important battles come the fourth quarter and final minutes."


The summer after his sophomore year, Wiedmaier spent a month in Costa Rica, and it left him wanting to see more of the world, especially in an area where he could make a difference.

Dugan had started the Fields of Growth initiative when he had been in Africa, and he brought some lacrosse sticks with him as a way of trying to make a connection. Wiedmaier saw the Fields of Growth advertisement on Inside Lacrosse, went through the selection process and headed off to Africa in July.

"I was really excited and a little nervous," he says. "I mean, I was going halfway around the world to somewhere I'd never been before. I went into it with no expectations. I was shocked to see how friendly everyone was. When I got off the plane, the first person I saw was a policeman with an AK47. I was a little intimidated by that, but he just waved to me and gave off a friendly vibe."

Through Dugan's original efforts and those of other players who have made the same trip lacrosse has grown at an amazing rate in the Uganda. At first, it might have seemed like a bizarre match.

"Outside soccer, rugby, basketball, boxing and athletics no other sport can claim to be popular in Uganda," Otoa says. "Lacrosse came in as a 'new' sport. Many people here are oblivious to the fact that lacrosse has a history of over 100 years. Youth between 15years-25years are attracted to the contemporary image lacrosse in Uganda portrays, and most lacrosse players are between these ages. It was easy to sell the essence of lacrosse to the public here because it is a team sport and it is very similar to popular sports here like soccer and basketball. Soccer is the overwhelming popular sport in Uganda. Many lacrosse players here have a soccer background. With 10 on-field payers, passing the ball, trying to shoot the ball into a goal, it is easy for many players to adapt to such an unheard of sport."

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2012-04-27



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