The lacrosse team with coach Chris Bates’ son, Nicholas, whose mother died of cancer last year.
The lacrosse team with coach Chris Bates’ son, Nicholas, whose mother died of cancer last year.
Coach Bates at a recent practice.
Coach Bates at a recent practice.

The last year has been a challenging one for the men’s lacrosse team. As a disappointing 4–8 season was ending, Ann Bates, the wife of head coach Chris Bates, suffered a relapse of the brain cancer with which she was diagnosed in 2003. Her illness and death in November 2011 brought the team members closer together, as they looked for ways to help their coach and his family.

During Ann Bates’ illness, the players began spending time with the couple’s 10-year-old son, Nicholas. They took him to visit an amusement park, and cheered on the sidelines at his ­basketball and soccer games.

Ann Bates
Ann Bates

“The way we (could) help Coach Bates out and show him how much we care about him was to help out with his son,” said Chad Wiedmaier ’12, one of this year’s co-captains.

Bates is grateful to the players for the way they reached out to his family. “It was a trying fall season for us, and it continues to be a difficult time,” he said. “I think we dealt with it like a family does.”

Ann Bates was a pediatrician who graduated from William & Mary and the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. She was 43 when she died.

“She was the most courageous, inspirational person I ever met,” her husband said.

As Princeton started this season with a 12–6 win over Hofstra Feb. 25, the players were embracing lofty goals for themselves. Wiedmaier and his classmates were highly touted as recruits and expected to compete for a national title last year before a series of injuries left Princeton with a losing record.

While the Tigers’ defense was formidable — Wiedmaier is one of the top defensemen in the country, and goalie Tyler Fiorito ’12 ranked second in the nation in percentage of shots saved last year — the team averaged only 7.1 goals a game, the lowest in the Ivy League. Midfielder Tom Schreiber ’14, who led the team in goals and assists last year, is in charge of the offense this season.

“We have a chip on our shoulder,” said Wiedmaier. “There’s no way last year isn’t in the back of my mind. My class is very motivated. We came in as the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. We don’t feel like we’ve lived up to that. We want to leave with no regrets.”

And the players want to continue to be there for their coach and his son.

“It’s always in the back of your head a little bit, wondering how he’s doing,” Wiedmaier said of his coach.