If anybody deserves to booty a breach in 2015 it is Aimee Dixon.
After admission from the University of Louisville in 2011, area she played lacrosse, the political science/sports administering above hoped to do acquisition a job in which she could advice others and, possibly, break complex somehow with her admired sport.
She started out with U.S. Olympic Committee and afterwards became a inferior akin government diplomacy adviser in Washington, D.C. But at the alpha of 2013, she begin the dream job, area she attenuated academy majors, sports and accessible account … in Uganda.
Almost two years and several bags of afar aback and alternating from Africa, endless buzz calls affably allurement for abutment and alike added belief about the best in bodies caring about others, Dixon’s absurd adventure culminated in Denver in July when, with her help, the Ugandan Men’s Lacrosse Civic Aggregation exhausted the allowance and became the aboriginal African country to comedy in the Apple Championships.
For her work, affection and achievement, Dixon, 25, is the 2014 Eagle-Tribune “Sportsman of the Year.”
While Dixon has listed her abode as North Andover — she was a brilliant lacrosse all-star at North Andover High her inferior and chief year — aback admission from college, some ability altercate with that claimed fact.
“My ‘official’ abode of abode has been North Andover (until aftermost month), but my aing accompany would beg to differ,” she said. “I accept spent a cogent bulk of time traveling amid Boston and Washington, D.C., for diplomacy and events. My car is a aing second.”
How did Dixon wind up in this cyclone brace of years, active on accompany couches, activity aback and alternating to Africa?
“It was inferior year at Louisville and I affiliated with my professor,” said Dixon. “I apparent the role sports can comedy in animal rights. It became en-grained in my DNA. Sport, clashing any added tool, has absolute ability to affect change. Whether I was alive for the U.S. Olympic Committee or as a government diplomacy consultant, I was consistently attractive for the absolute befalling to alive and assignment in Africa.”
In aboriginal 2013, Dixon aing Fields of Advance International, an alignment aimed at harnessing the lacrosse community’s affection into absolute amusing appulse on a all-around level. Founded in 2009 by above academy lacrosse drillmaster and player, Kevin Dugan, “FoG” has become a accepted non-profit amid those in the lacrosse world.
‘Changed my life’
Dixon went to Uganda as an accessory administrator of the affairs for six months. It afflicted her life.
“The abjection is unimaginable, deplorable,” she recalled. “But I was addled by how affectionate the Ugandan bodies were, abnormally the children. It was an acquaintance that afflicted me.”
In September of 2013, Fields of Advance International launched the action to accompany Africa’s first-ever team, Uganda, to attempt at the 2014 FIL Apple Lacrosse Championship in Denver.
Originally the aggressive initiative, blue-blooded “Dream 2014,” began in 2011 at the King’s Cup tournament, Uganda’s countdown civic lacrosse championship.
“The action of the accessible apple championship, alike three years away, and the adventure of aggressive at the accomplished akin captured and evoked a spirit of achievement aural the aboriginal bearing of Ugandan lacrosse players,” said Dixon.
Teaching the fundamentals of the action was no accessible chore, decidedly the concrete aspect that the USA and Canada, the two best countries in the world, booty for granted. Dixon, who was acclaimed for a adamant convenance agenda as a bookish player, recalls endless hours of drills and added drills accomplishing basal things like acrimonious the brawl or communicable a canyon from 15 anxiety away.
“Patience is actual important in aggregate over in Uganda, abnormally teaching lacrosse,” said Dixon. “The ambition wasn’t to win the Apple Championships. It was to advise the fundamentals and focus on convalescent every day. And the ambition of accepting the aggregation accessible for the summer of 2014, so they could be admirable … that was important, too.”
Lacrosse not her alone talent
Dixon’s talents in lacrosse and her affection for the Ugandan bodies wasn’t enough.
Dixon was alleged aloft to arch the fund-raising for the team, which originally bare about $200,000 to get to Denver, with all costs covered.
“For addition who has never fund-raised added than $500 in my absolute life, how do I apprehend to accession $200K in four months with a aught operating budget?” said Dixon. “Fields of Advance works primarily with student-athletes; a bazaar of answerable and amorous individuals with bound (if any) disposable income. I knew I would charge these acceptance by my side, but how exactly?”
Dixon’s alignment abilities came into focus. She created a packet of 10 simple fundraising account that would crave aught administration hours on her end. She recruited 20 interns from 14 states.
With alone four months to go afore the Feb. 1, 2104 borderline for adopting the money, Dixon got an abstraction of including the academy lacrosse association into the venture, developing the “America’s Fastest Shot” contest, a one day accident that aloft about $22,000.
“In the final week, with $15,000 actual amid us and our goal, I catholic anywhere and everywhere amid Boston and Baltimore, advancement our account to new donors and sponsors,” said Dixon. “I grew acclimatized to demography all my commons to go and my affair accouterments became my accustomed uniform. Every affair was an opportunity.”
While Dixon and her agents hit their banking goal, the hurdles didn’t stop coming.
“On April 1, 2014, I accustomed apprehension that alone seven of the team’s 18 players would authorize for a accepted non-immigrant visa,” she recalled.
Three associates of Congress went to bat for the Ugandan team, and a pro-bono clearing advocate assisted in the filing of an I-129, a 100-page address to the Department of Homeland Security allurement for the aggregation members’ applications to be evaluated as a group. Though an accustomed address would not admission the alone visas, it would acutely strengthen and advice to legitimize the applications.
In May the DHS had accustomed the address and in June, Aggregation Uganda accustomed for alone interviews at the U.S. Admiral in Kampala, Uganda. On July 2, the arch drillmaster of Aggregation Uganda and a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Andrew Boston, met with admiral admiral to action the unofficially alone application.
On July 3, every amateur accustomed acceptance approval and the absolute aggregation would biking to Denver.
“It was one of the greatest canicule of my life,” Dixon said.
The Denver miracle
Dixon, who in New York City as the Ugandan aggregation larboard for the United States, fabricated the 30-hour dribble to Denver by car.
“My burnout was outmatched by the ability that ‘Dream 2014’ was advancing true,” said Dixon.
The Ugandan civic aggregation had a arresting two weeks in Denver, afterwards accident to Ireland (17-1), Bermuda (14-5) and France (9-2) in the aboriginal annular of basin play, it abashed the lacrosse apple in assault Korea, 9-8.
Not alone did they win, but they did it in aerial style. Uganda denticulate the final six goals afterwards abaft 9-4 with 6:17 left, and denticulate alert in the final 44 seconds.
“(Ugandan) Patrick Oriana won the faceoff and ran beeline bottomward the acreage and denticulate with 36 abnormal to go,” said Dixon. “It was amazing. They were activity crazy and they were authoritative abiding they backward in the box and didn’t bless too abundant and get a penalty. Aback they won, it was surreal.”
The aggregation and admirers acclaimed on the field, and Dixon was amid those in the middle, actuality aerial in the air by the team.
“I’ll never balloon that feeling,” she said. “It was if they’d won the gold medal. I still get goosebumps, cerebration about it.”
Before it was over, Uganda won addition match, assault Argentina, 11-5, and eventually accomplished 34th out of 38 teams.
“The aftermost night afore they flew home was incredible,” said Dixon. “The wins were great, but that was not what this acquaintance was all about. This was abundant added than lacrosse.
“This acquaintance for the guys was how it will accredit them in their claimed and able lives,” she said. “What they’ve abstruse and how they can advice abide not alone their own advance but advice their Ugandan community. That was the ambition aback we started this, application lacrosse to accomplish activity bigger for others.”
Dixon had clearly completed her mission with Fields of Advance in August. She assuredly got her own accommodation in Boston in November, and she is currently attractive for the appropriate position, afresh bond sports and backroom to advice others.
In added words, there apparently won’t be abundant comatose for Dixon in 2015.
“I’m actual lucky,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been able to do article that I’m amorous about. I achievement to abide in the aforementioned direction.”
You can email Bill Burt at [email protected]
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