By Rachel Villari | 2/4/14 3:00 PM
Last week, Major League Lacrosse spoke with first time Team USA hopeful Garrett Thul of the Florida Launch, inquiring about the recent Champion Challenge and the upcoming final roster announcement for the World Championship games this July in Denver, Colo. This week, the League spoke with 10-year MLL veteran and current Rochester Rattler Kevin Leveille, who is vying for a spot on the US roster for the second consecutive World Championship.
There’s something to be said about a well-rounded athlete. They are typically low-profile, multifaceted all-stars who understand that being a part of a team is like being a piece of a puzzle, part of a whole. Given such a criteria, it also seems that there is something to be said about Team USA prospect Kevin Leveille.
At the Champion Challenge in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at the end of January, it never seemed clearer that Major League veteran Leveille was a strong prospective piece of the Team USA puzzle. Although he only scored a single goal (which he chalked up to an excellent pass from Steele Stanwick, setting him up perfectly for the shot in front of the net), the 32 year-old attackman brought much more to the intra-squad final scrimmage, including an impressive bag of offensive records and tallies, and a realistic sense of what the coaches were looking for in creating the ultimate gold defending team.
“You know, all you can do is go out there and do your best,” Leveille said of heading to the Challenge. “Being selected to the US Team would mean everything. When I was growing up as a kid, there was no MLL and obviously college lacrosse was popular, but the US Team was always the goal, and always has been.”
Leveille understands that selecting Team USA is an arduous process though, not only for the players but also for the coaches. “The training process has become a little bit more demanding since 2010,” when Leveille first tried out and was selected as an alternate team member. But he understands and has faith in the coaching staff and management, stating that “they have to be very thorough and there’s a lot that they put into getting the right players out on the field when it comes down to game time.”
When asked how he demonstrated his worth over the weekend, Leveille responded, “you have to think positive and you have to be confident in what you’re doing when you’re around the team, both on and off the field. You just have to give it your best and hope that the coaches pick up on every little piece of the puzzle you’re throwing at them.” For Leveille, that means hoping they look at his scholastic lacrosse career, where he holds the 11th spot on the University of Massachusetts’ all-time scoring list, his current League record of 59 consecutive games with at least one goal, and the captaincies he’s held with various past MLL teams.
Leveille produces, that much is certain, but he also has a sense of camaraderie, a sense of being a part of a team. When asked about his League goal scoring record, he answered the question the same way he fielded the prompt inquiring about his goal at the Champion Challenge. “I think my record just speaks to the level of play in the League,” he said, crediting the team as a whole. “You know, it comes with being surrounded by some of the best players at the time. During that streak, one of them was my brother Mike, and before that there was Connor Gill and Mark Millon, a whole handful of guys.” It was a real team effort.
Showcasing how much a team effort means, especially in games as important as the World Championships, Leveille had compliments for both the offense and defense of his victorious Team USA White at the Champion Challenge. “I think offensively we were moving the ball and we were being unselfish. We also did a good job of playing good defense and getting the ball up into transition after stops. It was a great experience, being able to practice with that group of guys, being on the winning side of things. It was a great gig. I’m pretty happy with the way it went and how we did.”
The last piece of the puzzle Leveille had to offer Coach Meade and Team USA was his experience as a player. “I think it all adds up. Playing with all those guys I’ve played with over the past ten seasons and having had all those experiences I’ve had, it’s all little pieces of a puzzle. You gather little fragments of situations you go through and you kind of put them all together and that’s what you have to go on at any given point in the game, building off of what you’ve already encountered. So, I think I’ve really developed into a leader as an older guy. My past experiences have definitely given me a good perspective on things, and I definitely feel comfortable in most situations and as a good asset to the guys surrounding me that may be younger.”
Since participating in the Champion Challenge and waiting for the final Team USA roster announcement coming Wednesday, February 5, Leveille has also had some time to think of his upcoming third season with the Rochester Rattlers. “I think as a group I feel like we’re looking forward to getting back on the field… the playoffs are our goal this year,” never mind his personal ones.
Watch the unveiling of the final Team USA World Championship roster will take place on The Lacrosse Network’s YouTube channel, tomorrow, February 5, at 8 p.m.