Becket Wolf ’97 gave the following speech at his induction to the New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation’s Hall of Fame. Along with his submission, he notes: “What Princeton gave me is exceptional, and that is why I’m giving back.”
January 30, 2011
I would like to thank the New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation, the Committees of the North and South Chapter, Peter Stanton, and Lauren Berg for putting together this wonderful event, and for this incredible honor. I also want to congratulate my fellow inductees. I am very honored to be in your company. Finally, I want to thank the very thoughtful friends and family who are here to support me tonight.
Rob Brawner, Jason Farrell, Chris Dickey, Christian Cook, John Harrington, Ted Martell, Patrick Cairns, Rob Neff, Pancho Gutstein, Scott Bacigalupo, Derek Katz, Andrew Mitchell, Josh Miller, Nick Lane, Fred Macmahon, Peter Ramsay, Dennis Kramer, Kurt Lunkenheimer, James Mitchell, Ben Strutt, Coach Rusty Hlavacek, Coach Graham Cole, Coach Bryce Chase, Coach David Metzbower, Coach Bill Tierney, and my great friend, Tom Sherwood (who is here tonight). In honoring me, you are honoring these great athletes and coaches. Outside of the coaches, the names I listed were members of the defensive units on which I was fortunate enough to play, or who preceded me at Princeton and built the foundation for our success. Obviously, every team member should be mentioned, but I highlight these men becaue, without them, I simply would not be here today. This honor is for them, and I accept it on their behalf.
Please understand that I served a role as a defenseman at Princeton. My job was to funnel unsuspecting attackmen to the middle of the field in a predetermined pattern to meet my friends, Mitch, Ben Strutt (“Bunny”), Kurt Lunkenheimer (“A Faceful of Lunk”), and many others. In my senior year, I funnelled one of the great attackmen to play the game, Doug Knight from the University of Virginia, towards the crease. I could not cover Doug one-on-one. Here’s a little secret: I couldn’t cover anyone one-on-one. I simply relied on my teammates. All of a sudden, Doug Knight disappeared in a blur before my eyes. He was gone; [I have] no idea where he went. I lost him… to James Mitchell, a former running back and lacrosse star at Mountain Lakes High School; our face-off specialist and short stick defensive midfielder with Ben Strutt, and pound-for-pound, the greatest athlete I know. Legend has it that James had built up a head of steam all the way from northern New Jersey to central New Jersey that day to hit Doug Knight. James hit Doug so hard (a very clean and precise hit, I should add), that I not only didn’t have to pretend to cover Doug one-on-one, I didn’t even need to funnel him for the rest of the game. He simply stopped playing. I think, to this day, Doug is wondering what exactly transpired that day. Here’s what happened: he met a bunch of guys who believed in each other and in the system that their coaches put together. That’s it. I was a very small part of the reason that Doug rarely scored against Princeton, while becoming one of the all-time leading scorers in college lacrosse history. A very small reason.
Coach Tierney taught me to serve a role and rely on my teammates. I emphasize this point again, because any awards or recognition that I received never would have happened if I didn’t play for Coach Tierney, Coach Metzbower and Coach Chase, and with a group of men who were willing to sacrifice for me, and each other, every single day.
Which brings me to the present. I also would not be here today if not for the support of my teammates this past September, 13 years after we played together. Within minutes of preparing to return from vacation in Seattle, I collapsed at my in-laws. With no previous medical history whatsoever, an artery in my abdomen burst. I was rushed to a local hospital, and resuscitated on the operating room table by a team of trauma surgeons who also knew their roles and performed them perfectly that day to save my life. Within minutes of me heading into surgery, all of my Princeton teammates knew and were stepping in to provide support to me and my family. When I was discharged from the hospital after many weeks, I had lost 45 pounds in one month and was extremely weak. Ben Strutt, who introduced me tonight, and Jason Osier, also here tonight, rallied my Princeton teammates around me and my family. A cook arrived one day, as she did for four weeks, to prepare meals for me and fatten me back up. My teammates set it all up, so that I could get better and gain weight. Mission accomplished, Ben, perhaps too effectively. I am forever grateful and blessed for what you all did.
I would like to wrap up by thanking my parents and sisters, and my brother, who passed away in 2001. They helped me value hard work and the pursuit of goals with a strong moral and ethical compass. My extended family, also represented tonight, taught me always to have love and compassion for each other. It’s likely that I would not have joined the Princeton Lacrosse family, if not for these shared and very important values. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Allison, unfortunately unable to attend this evening from Chicago. The purest happiness I have experienced in my life was winning the National Championship at Princeton, the day I married Allison, the day I was discharged from the hospital in Seattle and got to see my sons again, and every moment I get to spend with Allison and our two boys, Turner and Miles. In short, Alli, you provide me with joy and happiness every single day. I love you.
Thank you very much, and have a great night.
For additional background on Becket’s Princeton experience, click here to visit his NJ Lacrosse Hall of Fame induction page at GoPrincetonTigers.com.