This past weekend, while I was back east with our Denver Elite club teams, I also had the chance to go back to the Princeton Lacrosse Team and Alumni Fall Celebration Dinner. At the dinner, we celebrated the 10th year anniversary of our team winning the 2001 NCAA National Championship. 2001 was also my senior year in college, so it was awesome to get to see many of my classmates from that year. We had spent four years together working extremely hard to realize this dream that we all shared from the time we were very young. The highlight video that was put together for the dinner, which I shared above, gives me the chills because it shows how we all made that dream a reality together.
At the dinner, Chip Buzzeo, who was a teammate, classmate and roommate of mine at Princeton gave a speech about what those four years on our team meant to him. It reminded me after all those years, how much goes into a team being successful together. I also realized that Chip was probably the most valuable player on that team and the biggest key to our success. The amazing thing is though, that Chip never really played for us.
"Buzz" was simply the greatest teammate that I have ever had. He was a player who had always wanted to go to Princeton, knowing that he might not ever play there. He took a PG year after high school so he could get his grades up and improve his level of play enough to convince Coach T to take him into the program. From day one, Chip was the type of guy who would do anything for his teammates, whether on the field or in the dorms, locker room or classroom. He played in every practice as hard as he possibly could and never complained that he was not playing in games. His only concern was helping our team to be the best it could be and help us win a national championship. He was also a vocal leader who called out the starters and All-Americans when they were not pulling their weight in practice and raised our level of play on a daily basis.
Due to all of these qualities that Chip emulated, he was highly respected by all of our teammates and voted a captain in his senior year. Like I said before, he never ended up playing much for us, but he achieved his goal of helping us win a NCAA National Championship in 2001. He also became the greatest player and athlete that he was meant to become, just by being the best he could be for his teammates. He did not do it for the awards, or for the recognition of being in the papers and magazines, or to get noticed by the fans or alumni of the program. Simply being his best for his team and teammates was enough for him.
When I think back to all the great players that were on that Princeton team, the most important person on the squad was NOT one of the All-Americans nor one of the guys who scored the big goals on Memorial Day. The most important person to that team's success was Chip, and I will always have the utmost respect and gratuity for him since he helped me reach my ultimate dream in lacrosse and because he was always there for me as a friend.
That highlight video posted at the top of this blog is like 20 minutes long, but if you can watch it for just ten seconds, please notice one thing at the beginning of the video - #26, Chip Buzzeo was the first person that held that 2001 National Championship trophy. That was the way our team wanted it to be because he had earned the right to hold that trophy more than any of us. He had won it in the trenches. He had won it by pushing all of us every day to be our best and by supporting and loving all of his teammates the most he possibly could every day. He had won it because that was his dream and he pursued it whole-heartedly. He had won it because he was selfless. When I watch that video, I tear up when I get to see Buzz hold that trophy because I know he wanted it more and deserved it more than anyone.
I do not ever really wear my National Championship rings, but they are some of my most prized possssions. When I look at them, I remember all my close friends and teammates who had come together for a common goal and pushed themselves and each other to be the best that they possibly could be. There is no one that stands out more in my memory than Chip and I will forever be grateful to him for helping me reach my full potential and my childhood dream as a lacrosse player.
Buzz, you are the man...but I still don't think that's a very good idea. ;-)