Courtesy of Princeton Athletic Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Chad Wiedmaier has spent his Princeton lacrosse career trying to prevent goals.
For the next few weeks, he'll be concentrating on achieving a few lofty goals of his own.
Wiedmaier, an All-America defenseman for Princeton, is off to spend four weeks in Uganda with "Fields of Growth," an organization that uses lacrosse as a way of encouraging education and citizenship in the country.
Wiedmaier had his first experience of traveling outside the country last summer, when he spent a month in Costa Rica.
"You can be told so many times how lucky you are to live in America or attend a college like Princeton," Wiedmaier says. "You don't really understand it until you go out of the country. Even though Costa Rica is hardly a developing country, it still showed me how fortunate we are to have the resources we have. That experience made me want to keep traveling and keep helping people."
Fields of Growth, was started by Notre Dame Director of Lacrosse Operations Kevin Dugan. A year ago, Ryan Flanagan, an All-America from North Carolina, participated in the program.
"They've used lacrosse as an initiative to connect with the people of Uganda," Wiedmaier says. "Lacrosse is part of it, but we're also building houses and schools, helping out at farms and orphanages. It's grown and grown."
Wiedmaier's trip will see him mainly based in Kampala, the capital. While there, he'll work through the McQueery Business School, sitting in on classes and running lacrosse clinics while living in a local family home.
Lacrosse in Uganda has grown considerably of late, to the point where the country was recently admitted to the Federation of International Lacrosse and will be eligible to compete in the 2014 World Championships in Denver.
"Part of the plan is to have a big clinic and festival in the first two weeks I'm there," says Wiedmaier, who also is helping bring used lacrosse equipment to the country. "It'll be a mini-Uganda national championship. The cool thing for them is that it's not easy for people from Uganda to get to the United States. The 2014 championships in Denver could bring 30-40 people there."
In addition to his time in Kampala, Wiedmaier will help build classrooms in a rural village outside the city.
He will also spend time at a third site, on the edge of a rain forest on the border with Rwanda and Congo. While there, he'll work on a development program for the Batwa Pygmies, who have been displaced from the traditional homes by efforts to preserve the rain forests.
"They've been living nomadically since being forced out of the rain forest," he says. "Fields of Growth has set up programs to help them, to try to teach them to use a plot of land as farm land, to build homes and to teach them a sense of permanence."
Wiedmaier has been a first-team All-Ivy League selection each of his first three years at Princeton, and he will enter his senior year with the chance to become Princeton's first four-time first-team All-Ivy League men's lacrosse player. He's also been an All-America each of his first three seasons.