Editor's note: This article is one of three profiles on the men's lacrosse team's star senior defensemen before their game against Cornell on Saturday for senior night. Go here for a profile of long stick midfielder John Cunningham and here for goalie Tyler Fiorito.
Six games into his sophomore season on the men’s lacrosse team, senior defenseman Chad Wiedmaier was still waiting for his first action of the year. He had been sidelined because of a knee surgery since the offseason and would only be able to play in the regular season’s final seven games. But the defenseman quickly made up for lost time, racking up 12 caused turnovers — the third highest on the team that year — and earning his second straight first-team All-Ivy selection despite missing the first half of the season.
Wiedmaier’s on-field accomplishments are fueled by gritty stories and backed by a massive collection of accolades. He has earned first-team All-Ivy honors in each of his three seasons at Princeton and remains the only defenseman in Princeton history to have earned the honor as a freshman. If he is selected again this year, he will become the first Tiger ever to earn four first-team All-Ivy awards, and he also has received a third-team and two second-team All-America honors.
Awards and honors are not his main concern, though. Weidmaier said the most satisfying product of his Princeton lacrosse career has been the collection of friendships he has gained from the team.
“People take it for granted, but it’s such an awesome thing to step onto a campus and immediately have 40 other guys that are looking out for you,” he said.
Through anchoring the team’s physical style as defensive players and leading their teammates as seniors, goalie Tyler Fiorito and longstick midfielder John Cunningham have become some of Wiedmaier’s closest friends of those 40. Wiedmaier has been grateful for the opportunity to work alongside his two co-captains, whom he described as focused, competitive leaders.
“I’m kind of the happy-go-lucky guy in between,” he said. “It’s just been really nice. When you have three different personalities like that, it just helps to make sure that we’re seeing things from different perspectives.”
A starter for all four years, Wiedmaier’s path from a freshman to a senior captain has been a long and involved process. He fondly remembers his freshman year as one where he could concentrate exclusively on playing rather than organizing or communicating, and said he appreciated learning from the leadership of defenseman Chris Peyser ’09. Since then, he has embraced the challenge of honoring the roles of Peyser and his other predecessors.
“It was an amazing experience going from being that guy who was like, ‘Alright, what am I doing?’ to, ‘Here, this is what you do; we’re going to take care of you,’ ” he said.
Wiedmaier’s leadership and concern for helping his teammates have impressed the underclassmen on the squad.
Last summer, Wiedmaier traveled to Uganda as a volunteer worker for Fields of Growth International, a charity organization dedicated to educating African children in academics and lacrosse. Following Wiedmaier’s initiative, sophomore attackman Tom Schreiber will make the same trip this summer.
“His intensity and emotion are things people feed off of on game day. Off the field, he’s a genuine person who really cares about other people,” Schreiber said. “When all is said and done, I think Chad Wiedmaier will go down as one of the best people and players ever to be a part of Princeton lacrosse.”
Though Wiedmaier, Cunningham and Fiorito have all been drafted by professional lacrosse teams — Wiedmaier was the first player picked of the trio, seventh overall — the defenseman says that he is more focused on this season than any future plans with the sport.
“It’s pro lacrosse, and it’s awesome, but nothing’s this special,” he said. “You can’t recreate your senior year.”
As his final season at Princeton approaches its end, Wiedmaier ranks sixth in the nation in turnovers caused per game. He is currently one of 10 nationwide finalists for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, and his team is a perfect 5-0 in Ivy League play.
Still, he sees no reason to pause or celebrate now, with the final regular-season game of his career against No. 7 Cornell coming up this weekend. In five games against the Big Red, Wiedmaier has allowed only four goals from Rob Pannell — one of the nation’s top attackmen, who may return from an injury this weekend.
“We need a win against a top-10 team,” he said. “This is the only chance we’re going to get to do that before the Ivy League Tournament.”