University Lacrosse Coach Brings Sport to Uganda

Dec 14, 2009
        Coach Kevin Dugan understands the importance of service, especially the way it functions for The University of Scranton. His first service trip to El Salvador as part of Scranton’s International Service Program trip solidified this passion for him. 
        With the idea that “Service is the rent we pay for living on earth,” as Dugan put it, the head coach of Scranton’s lacrosse team traveled to Africa to introduce the sport to a poverty-stricken area in Uganda.
        Dugan came up with the idea of the organization Fields of Growth during his trip there this past summer. With the group, he hopes to foster community development through the outlet of lacrosse. 
        “Charity alone isn’t sustainable,” Dugan said. “We ultimately hope to incorporate social goals with traditional capitalist principals in a sustainable, effective way. Incorporating lacrosse into our program creates a powerful point of difference in the world of fostering country community development. The lacrosse community harbors a powerful, passionate missionary spirit when it comes to spreading the game. Fields of Growth ultimately aims to capitalize on that, while instituting human and community development.”
        While in Uganda, he attended a four-day conference in its capital city, Kampala, to learn more about the political, economic and social climate of the country.  He would need this information before diving headlong into his service.
        Dugan taught many lacrosse clinics during his stay, starting in St. Mbaaga’s Major Seminary in Ggaba, where they played 10 versus 10. Often he found himself improvising some of the rules of the game — for example, to score, one had to shoot the ball through soccer posts.
        But the learning of the sport was not the most important aspect of his trip.
        “The kids we were working with absolutely loved our clinics,” he said. “First and foremost, they just loved the gift of time and attention that we gave them, but they also loved the concept of having their own stick. They were enamored with the idea that everyone has their own stick. That sense of ownership was really empowering and fascinating for them.”
        Dugan also met up with Charles Pinches, Ph.D., chair of The University’s theology department, and a group of students traveling as part of their Christianity in Africa course. The students and their professor traveled to primary and secondary schools to meet Uganda students, and Dugan saw it as an opportunity to meet more children and teach more lacrosse.
        “Dr. Pinches has been my most important influence,” said Dugan. “My idea for Fields of Growth initially developed through my involvement with the International Service Program. My first trip to El Salvador really transformed me. Fr. Terry Devino and Dr. Charlie Pinches have been two great sources of wisdom and guidance. Dr. Pinches is the person that connected me with East Africa. I learn from just observing him. He is just so soulful, wise and humble. He is just an incredible person.”
        Dugan left for another 40-day trip to Uganda on Dec. 3, and he is planning a trip to Jamaica to start another Fields of Growth project. 
        “Right now we are really trying to focus on Southwest Uganda,” Dugan said. “There is so much need and it is easy to be pulled in several directions. One of my great challenges has been to really zero in and decide on a place to focus. We will definitely be starting a project in Jamaica and are trying to get Jesuit high school and college teams to partner with St. George’s High School in Kingston (Jamaica). There is definitely an opportunity to harness the power of Jesuit fellowship in spreading lacrosse in Jamaica.” 
        Fields of Growth already has student power from schools like the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, Duke University, Yale University and The University of Scranton. 
       “Fields of Growth is not just about lacrosse,” Dugan said. “I want Fields of Growth to be about empowering community development projects that demand co-investment from the people we serve. I do not want it to be about soft, dead aid.”
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