On the day of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse semifinals, the stands in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field were awash in Nittany Navy and Duke Blue. Amid the waves of nearly 33,000 Penn State and Duke fans were glimmers of scarlet—Laurentians who traveled to see two of their own face off on the national stage. Somewhere below the stadium seats, former teammates Chris Jordan ’22 and William Helm ’22 prepared to take the field.
“All year we were texting and talking about how our seasons were going. It all culminated in us playing against each other,” says Jordan, who traded his scarlet and brown for navy and white last fall. “Playing Will in the Final Four was easily the coolest moment of my sports career.”
At the end of a hard-fought four quarters, the score was tied at 15 to 15. The game would have to be decided in overtime. Although a neutral outcome was never an option, Saints fans like Trustee Emeritus David Officer ’67 couldn’t possibly pick a side from where he stood in the stands.
“At one point, Chris got the ball and took a shot on William. The shots are like lightning, but for me, it felt like the ball was in the air forever. Going through my mind was, ‘Do I want a goal? Do I want a save?’” says Officer. “The ball went just wide of the net, so William didn’t have to make a save, but Chris had gotten the shot. I was good with that.”
From his vantage point at the center of the action, Helm recalls the moment clearly. “Seeing him approach the goal and take a shot, I felt like we were back on the North Country Field in Canton.” That’s where the winning connections at the core of this story begin.
A Legacy of Paying it Forward
It’s not common for athletes to make the jump to DI after they’ve graduated from their DIII program. When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted college lacrosse seasons across the country, DIII athletes were awarded two additional years of eligibility to play. Helm and Jordan took their talents to two of the top-ranked teams and graduate programs in the country: Helm in goal for Duke while pursuing his master’s in management studies from the Fuqua School of Business and Jordan on attack for Penn State while pursuing his MBA from the Smeal College of Business.
Along every step of their journeys, Officer has been there. It’s no surprise that he was in the stands to support them on the day that their lacrosse careers finally crossed paths again. He has been watching both young men progress in their athletic, academic, and professional careers since their first years at St. Lawrence.
“I feel like I’ve known Mr. O my entire life,” says Helm. “He is probably the biggest St. Lawrence lacrosse fan I’ve ever met. My junior year, he emailed me after every single game, and we would just talk.”
I feel like I've known Mr. O My entire life."
–William Helm '22
Officer became a lacrosse fan watching his sons play for Bucknell, and many of his St. Lawrence connections over the years have come through the men’s and women’s programs. He and Jordan met at a team fundraiser in New York City during Jordan’s first year and have stayed in touch ever since.
Following the lead of his teammate, Helm reached out to Officer directly for advice.
“We established a relationship and really clicked. We would talk, not so much about lacrosse, but about what they should do with their summers or how to plan for life after St. Lawrence,” Officer says. Helm and Jordan are two of the 150 or more students he has mentored over the years. “They call me Mr. O. That’s a nickname given to me by Peter Carpenter, a member of the Class of 2012 and a lacrosse player. He said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Officer, it’s too formal. How about Mr. and Mrs. O?’ And it stuck,” Officer explains.
Officer’s background is in finance and business. He was with Merrill Lynch for 20 years and then Permal Asset Management for 15. Since his first hire in 1979, he estimates he’s offered internships to about 100 St. Lawrence students throughout his career. Sometimes, he works with students through the Center for Career Excellence. More commonly, his connections begin with informal introductions. Now retired, mentoring current students and supporting recent grads is one of his favorite ways to fill his time.
“First, I get to know the student and we work on making their résumé perfect,” Officer explains. Then, we graduate to interview coaching. Finally, we move on to referrals. I ensure they’re fully prepared and interview-ready before I refer them to someone else.”
Officer and his wife Joan find joy in getting to know students and being there to support their passions—whether on the field, the court, the classroom, or the stage. Whenever they’re on campus, Officer tries to spend time with his mentees in person—or, as he says, “in their element.”
“Mentoring is just as valuable for the mentor as it is for the mentee. I’m 78 and my wife is 76, but we don’t feel like 78 and 76 when we’re around students. We have many great friends who are the same age, but there’s one type of conversation that those in their upper 70s have,” says David, laughing. “Twenty-two-year-olds have a whole different conversation and outlook, and we find that’s a huge benefit for us.”
Mentoring is just as valuable for the mentor as it is for the mentee."
–Trustee Emeritus David Officer '67
When the Officers traveled to Philadelphia from their home in New Canaan, Connecticut, they made a weekend of the excursion, but it wasn’t the first time they had traveled to show their support.
“He came to my game against Yale in New Haven,” recalls Jordan. “It was probably 20 degrees outside, and he stayed the whole time.” This summer, Jordan is interning at Landmark Management, which was founded by Trustee Earl A.“Trip” Samson III ’80, P’16. Samson was one of Officer’s first mentees—he hired him for an internship in 1980. “Chris wanted to have a meaningful summer internship between his two years. I told him—you take care of lacrosse and I’ll be your agent,” says Officer. In his years as a mentor, Officer has fostered a legacy of paying it forward and created what is effectively a family tree of Laurentians helping Laurentians. “Mr. O has been so helpful in my early career search,” says Jordan. “He’s inspired me to give back to St. Lawrence for the rest of my life.”
Leading by Example
During their senior year, Jordan topped the Liberty League in points per game and is one of the top scorers in Saints lacrosse history. Helm—an economics and math double major with a statistics minor—was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Both teammates earned First-Team All-Liberty League honors.
“First and foremost, being at St. Lawrence for four years prepared me extremely well for the transition to Penn State,” says Jordan, who majored in economics as an undergrad. He and Helm led their team to the Liberty League Championships, ultimately falling to the RIT Tigers but earning a bid for the NCAA Tournament.
“Both of them are remarkable athletes and fantastic students,” says Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Mike Mahoney ’93. “They have a real positive approach not only to lacrosse but to life in general. They each possess confidence that’s been building over time. They’ve worked hard on and off the lacrosse field to become the intelligent, considerate young men they are in all aspects of their lives.”
In his nearly 30-year tenure as head coach, Mahoney has always sought to recruit players who are humble but self-assured when it comes to their abilities on the field. He wants his athletes to understand that they’re in every game and practice together. Regardless of the role that they play, he expects every player to take pride in what they bring to the team. Helm explains that he has returned often to this sense of ownership and responsibility while in goal for Duke. “Coming into a program as a graduate student, it’s difficult because you don’t know anyone going in. You have to assimilate and acclimate to what the team is,” he says. “As an older player, I knew I needed to help younger players, share my experiences, and be an example. That can be hard in a new environment, but I felt prepared. I was able to step up and find my role on the team.”
A Fateful Matchup in Philadelphia
Up until they met again in the semifinals, Jordan and Helm hadn’t seen each other since graduation day in 2022. They weren’t on one another’s schedules, but Jordan couldn’t ignore the feeling that they’d see each other again before their seasons were through.
“Mr. O and I would email back and forth throughout the season, and we’d always talk about the possibility of playing Will. There’s an email chain where I said that I could just see myself playing him in the Final Four,” says Jordan. When their semifinal matchup headed into overtime, Duke netted the game-winning goal with minutes left to play. Despite a spectacular effort from Jordan and Penn State, Helm and his fellow Blue Devils advanced to the championship.
“One was always going to win, and one was going to lose. They’re good friends, but they’re competitors as well,” says Officer. “My experience mentoring Chris and William has grown into a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship, and I felt like all came together in the Final Four.”
Though Duke walked away with the victory, for Officer and his fellow Saints in the stands, it felt like St. Lawrence won the day.