By Sarah Bartlett-Cahill | 9/13/12 4:24 PM
Last week Major League Lacrosse announced the addition of Limited Instant Replay for the 2013 Season. Instant Replay will be restricted to scoring plays and can be used only to determine whether the ball has completely crossed the plane of the goal, whether a goal scored should be counted as a one or two-point goal, and whether the last player in possession prior to the shot had stepped into the crease prior to the ball crossing the plane of the goal. As illustrated in our recent press release, Instant Replay will be conducted via a challenge system, with each team having two challenges during regulation time and an additional challenge during overtime. This initiative is not only game-changing for the league, but holds an important place in league history, as it arose through the suggestion of a player, Rochester’s Kevin Leveille.
Leveille, an attackman for the Rattlers, is no stranger to the game. Having played in his hometown of Delmar, New York, since an early age, Leveille was a standout at UMass Amherst, where he had 51 points during his senior year in 2003. It was that same year that Leveille began playing for MLL, just two years into the league’s inception, scoring six goals in five games during his rookie season with the Boston Cannons. In 2004, Leveille scored 27 goals and had 19 assists for 39 points, finishing second on the team and earning MLL’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award. Leveille went on to spend one more season with the Cannons in which he appeared, started, and scored in 12 games, setting a career high of 39 goals and 12 assists and breaking several MLL records. In 2006, he moved on to the former Chicago Machine, now the Ohio Machine, which was in its inaugural season at the time. Leveille spent five years with the team and was an offensive threat to his competitors, tallying up 157 points as an attackman. Although he opted to sit out the 2011 season, Leveille was back with MLL in 2012, playing alongside his brother, Mike Leveille, for their home state Rochester Rattlers.
This past season, Leveille had approached Commissioner Dave Gross and others in the Major League Lacrosse offices about adding Instant Replay. In an interview with Leveille, he explained that it seemed like the next logical step; beneficial to not only the players, but to coaches, management, and officials. Again, having been with the league since its early days, Leveille remembers a time when there was a possibility that “there wouldn’t be a next season.” A self-appointed ambassador of MLL, Leveille feels that the league is now moving forward in a really great way.
He went on to explain that because of the exciting, fast pace of the game, it’s almost impossible for the officials on the field to make a call on scoring plays. Whether its figuring out if someone’s in the crease, if their toe is on the line, or if it’s a one or two-point shot, Leveille points out that MLL boasts bigger, faster athletes and quicker-moving plays than other lacrosse programs, which makes it difficult to truly see everything. Having looked back on his own videos, as well as having seen the growth of the sport on television and the internet, Leveille felt it was necessary to use the technology available to not only make sure the right call was made, but to keep MLL on par with other professional leagues. The NHL, NFL, and NBA have used instant replay for years, while others, such as MLS, have yet to adopt the system, aside from for disciplinary purposes. In that respect, perhaps Instant Replay could also give MLL the competitive edge over less-established leagues in the professional realm. At the local level, Leveille added that the initiative would not only put the players at ease, but would alleviate some of the stress on the officials, making the experience a lot better for everyone.
When asked how he felt about his idea being put into action, Leveille told us that although he was a little surprised, he generally felt the league made the right moves, or the right decisions, at the right times. Again, having been around for nine seasons, Leveille has seen the ups and downs of the league, and is a good person to look to in terms of what could be improved - as well as what’s changed for the better. He remembers when the long pole was added, which was a big move for the league about five or six years ago, and stresses the importance of “keeping it moving”; not only for the sport, but for the younger generations.
Leveille went on to state that MLL has given young players something to strive for beyond the college level. Having never seen an MLL game when he was drafted in 2003, Leveille remembers being “thrown into the mix” at training camp, having to learn the game at a much faster pace than he was used to. With the newer players however, Leveille has noticed that they are more experienced as far as the professional style of play, which could be attributed to the league’s influence. Leveille reflected on the fact that many of these up and coming players had been in middle school or younger when his career began, and could have been watching him play during his early seasons. He believes that MLL has been instrumental in reaching players at a younger age, allowing them to be more focused, driven, and determined in their sport, and in the league’s specific style of play, much earlier on than their predecessors had been.
As far as the fans are concerned, Leveille believes the addition of Instant Replay will make for a more exciting viewership. Whether it’s determining a one or two-point goal or reversing a call, and whether those fans are sitting amongst a full crowd or watching from home, Leveille has high hopes for next season.
In terms of his Rattlers, Leveille is already prepping for 2013. He has faith in his team to have a successful year and make it to Championship Weekend. Leveille can’t wait to get back on the field; a feeling, he tells us, that is like no other.
Leveille is but one of the many passionate, talented MLL players that hope to see continued growth and improvement for their game, their sport, and their league. As Leveille tells us, “It’s only going to keep getting better.”
About Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league, was founded by Jake Steinfeld and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Major League Lacrosse commenced play in June of 2001 and will enter its thirteenth season in 2013. MLL has continued to lead the sport of lacrosse into the mainstream of competitive team sports. The league is made up of eight teams: The Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Denver Outlaws, Hamilton Nationals, Long Island Lizards, Ohio Machine and Rochester Rattlers.