In going to Uganda, the main purpose of my trip was to coach, serve, and learn. The itinerary devised by Kevin Dugan, Andrew and Maurice I don’t think could have been planned any better to make that happen. It allowed for the perfect blend of everything into seven days and allowed me to take in the full experience while in Uganda.
First, I traveled to Uganda to coach, share my knowledge of the game with a very eager, hard working and passionate group of Ugandans. It was incredible to see how far they have come in such little time and their desire to get better. The athleticism is there, and with consistency in both practicing on a day to day basis and coaching, they will be at a high level a lot sooner than some would expect. It was great to see the league they already have put in place and the first day of games that were played on Saturday. The players on the field are extremely competitive and passionate about playing. There are rivalries that already exist in the league and fans that already follow their progress. Local media covers the games and the league as well and it was great to be able to get on one of the main radio stations to talk lacrosse and spark interest in the community! What is most promising though about the development of lacrosse in Uganda is the younger kids. They practice prior to the older players and stay till after they are done. They mimic the drills that the older teams do and constantly have the stick in their hands. This excites me about where lacrosse in Uganda will be years down the road when these young ones are older!
Second, I wanted to serve while I was in Uganda and in some ways was more of the reason I wanted to go. One of the things I love about lacrosse is the opportunity it has allowed me to give back. Cornell Lacrosse loves to give back to the community in any ways that we can and I figured this was a way for Cornell Lacrosse to give back in a major way. Chad Wiedmaier and Tom Schreiber have put in a tremendous amount of work in developing the Hopeful School in Kindu and it was great to become a part of their projects as well as start Cornell Lacrosse’s own within the school. It was eye opening to see the way in which people live that attend the school and to put a smile on their face and help them out in any ways that I can was worth the trip in itself. We were able to break ground for a second classroom being built after a hard days work of digging and setup a house for the goats that we purchased. While I was there we were also able to visit some of the families and deliver to them some holiday gifts that will go a long way as well as spend some time with them. By the generosity of all those involved with Cornell Lacrosse and my personal life, these projects were made possible and many people’s lives will be changed as a result. I thank you for that!
Lastly, I went over to Uganda to learn. During my trip I was able to go to some of the main places in Uganda to learn about its history as well as constantly asking questions to Andrew, Maurice, Francis and Oscar and them constantly informing me of things as well. I was able to learn much about Uganda’s history and about the geography of Uganda as well. Aside from learning about Uganda as a whole, I learned about the people who live there and what it is they do on an everyday basis to provide for their families and themselves. Whether it is walking miles to school or to get water, digging to earn some extra money, or tending to their crops or livestock, the people of Uganda are hard working and extremely thankful for what they have. It was a lesson learned by me while I was there to be extremely thankful for what you have because you have no idea how incredibly different it could be.
All in all the trip was an incredible experience and I thank all those involved for making it happen and all those who donated to my cause for making a difference in the lives of many!