Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wolf Man

Erik Peters saw 436 shots as Princeton's men's lacrosse goalie this past spring, not to mention several thousand others in practice.

Perhaps that is the best possible training for going face-to-face with Amarok and Koda.

And who are they? Lacrosse attackmen? Middies with monster shots?

Nope. They're wolves.

Yeah, actual wolves. This summer, they also became friends with Peters.

That's Koda on the left.

Peters is midway through an interesting summer.

He's spent the last two months working for the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, on issues related to wolves, conservation and attempts to reintroduce them into the wild. It's been hard work, with very long hours.

Now he's shifting somewhat on a dime and heading to New York City, for an internship in finance. That, too, will be hard work, with very long hours - just completely different kinds from the first.

Peters was recently featured by the Center for Career Development for his twin pursuits, with the great headline of "From Wolves To Wall Street." You can read that story HERE.

As for Peters, his time with the wolves was fascinating. TigerBlog's first question was the obvious one; namely, aren't the wolves scary?

"A lot of them are fairly socialized," Peters said. "It took about a month of being around them before you could do anything with them. You have to move really slowly, and you have pepper spray too. You just have to learn their personalities. Some of them are very social. Some you would never go near."

The center was part of a ranch, located about 90 minutes away from Peters' hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colo. He would spent three days a week there, sleeping at the facility, and essentially working 12-hour days that began when he woke up at 6 and began his shifts before 7.

"I did a lot of animal care in the morning," Peters said. "I'd clean the enclosures, have meetings about the ballot initiative that they're working on for wolf reintroduction to the wild. I'd also give a lot of tours. We'd run tours every other hour, with up to 45 people on them. Between the tours, I'd do other chores, some ranching stuff. At night I might be in charge of feeding them and then doing reports on them, how they behaved."

With his job with the wolves over, Peters is now heading to New York City. It's a far cry from where the ranch is located, in the Colorado mountains, with very little in the way of things like cell phone reception.

"It was definitely different," Peters said. "But it was a great experience. I got to meet a lot of people who I might not otherwise have been exposed to, and I got to see a lot of different viewpoints. It was hard work, but it was great."

Peters wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to pursue something that he was passionate about, such as conservation.

"It's not something I want to do as a career," he said. "But it's definitely something I'm very interested in, and this was an opportunity to explore that. It might be the only time I have to set aside a couple of months to do this. And it definitely connects with the kind of finance I'd like to get into. I'd like to get into renewables, investing in environmental deals. The first half of the summer was conservation experience that I won't be able to get later."

Peters, who will be a junior, started the final nine games of the season last year. He led the Ivy League in goals-against average, and was 25th nationally in save percentage.

Is there a connection between being a goalie in lacrosse and the rest of his summer's pursuits?

"I think so," he says. "When you're working with wild animals, you have to be confident in what you're doing. The animals could get hurt. You could get hurt. Even messing up the paperwork could hurt them down the line. Finance is also a high-stakes, high-pressure situation. I think lacrosse is where I learned not just to survive but thrive in situations like that, especially as a goalie."

The slogan "Achieve, Serve, Lead" is meant to show the value of athletics at Princeton, including the competition itself and the opportunities that Princeton athletes have beyond that competition.

Erik Peters' summer is a testament to that.

Plus, it's pretty cool.

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