8/28/14 4:00 PM
ROCHESTER, NY (Thursday, August 28, 2014) In all walks of life the time usually comes where a person figures out that the next chapter of their life needs to be opened, while turning the page on the story that they’ve already written. In the case of Kevin Leveille, that time has come and he couldn’t be more at peace with his decision. Leveille has officially announced his retirement from professional lacrosse, as he awaits the birth of his first child and looks to his future off the field.
Leveille, the captain of the Rochester Rattlers for the past couple of seasons, is one of the sports’ and Major League Lacrosse’s best and most respected talents. He is widely considered the greatest finisher in the game, and leaves the sport in second place for all-time career goals. Leveille was the first to surpass the milestone this season, but was eventually upended by MLL’s championship MVP and future Hall of Famer John Grant Jr.
When asked to comment on Leveille and his leadership ability, Head Coach Tim Soudan said “He has very good communication skills and does a great job motivating his teammates. He's also been a great role model for the game of lacrosse with his talent and his humble nature. He represents the game, the team and his family very well.
Having one of the best seasons of his career in 2014, he led the upstart Rattlers to their first post season since 2008, making it to the title game (losing 12-11 to Denver) in Atlanta on August 23rd. When commenting on Leveille as a player and what has made him so successful, Soudan continued “he knows what is important about the dynamics of a team and worked very hard to help cultivate the culture of our locker room. He’s like having another coach out on the field and is always playing full speed with great hustle and an unbelievable set of hands.”
He is revered within the game, and hopes to maintain his presence one way or another in the sport. “His work ethic and passion for the game after 11 years continued to grow stronger, and he will leave behind a legacy and traditions with this team that will last for many years to come” Soudan concluded.
As the game itself moves forward and continues to grow, Leveille can be proud that he made an impact that made a difference. His calm and laid back demeanor garners admiration, and his intensity on the field demands respect. Game officials, opposing players and owners, fans and teammates have all alluded to how much they like and appreciate what Kevin brought to the game.
“If every athlete in every sport presented and handled themselves the way Kevin Leveille always has, the sporting world would be an even more wonderful place” Rattlers COO Brad Ford said. “Maybe one of, if not the classiest guys I’ve ever met in my life. He deserves to walk away from a sport he impacted so positively knowing that he made so many around him that much better."
Kevin took the time to answer a few questions about his career, the Rattlers and the future of the game. His comments are below.
As you look back on your career, can you sum up what it has meant to be play at the highest level of lacrosse for so long and to have so much personal success in the game?
K.L: It has been amazing to be a part of the MLL for so long. Since I first came into the league in 2003, I have had so much appreciation for the league and the opportunity to be a part of it. First off, the level of play is unmatched. The speed of every facet of the game; passes, shots, goalies, defensemen, face-off guys, etc. is just incredible. Putting that speed together with the unique rules like the shot clock and a two-point line makes every moment so exciting. Literally, anything can happen. The best players in the world are able play free and play the way I feel lacrosse is meant to be played.
Second, the commitment level of the players, the coaches, the owners and the MLL staff over the years is something that I recognize and appreciate. Coming into the league in 2003, each season would come to an end and everyone would basically have fingers crossed that we’d have another year. A lot of sacrifice and hard work went in year after year and it’s so great that in 2014 the MLL is going strong.
I think the effort and commitment the players have made over the years is remarkable. Yes we get paid and we’re playing a game, but to make the commitment and put in the effort to be the best you can on field while holding another full-time career outside of the lines, is truly what this league will be built on one day when it’s a full-time, mainstream, household sport, and that’s exciting to be a part of. Being a pioneer of the MLL is something I take very seriously and am most proud of.
On being the captain of the 2014 Rochester Rattlers, and the talent and success that attributed to making it to a first place regular season standing and the title game.
K.L: It was an honor to be a part of a team like the 2014 Rochester Rattlers. I’ve been on a lot of teams, and every team is different, but this team was so special in so many ways. This group was the definition of a team. All of the characteristics that’d you’d hope to have as a team we had: Unselfishness, brotherhood, talent, intelligence, positivity, fun, humor and 100% effort. All of it, we had it.
The best part is that it wasn’t manufactured. It wasn’t something that the coaches pushed on us, it was just 100% natural based on the DNA of every member of the Rattler organization. When you have this kind of group together, good things are going to happen. We didn’t achieve our ultimate goal but we did knock off every one of our smaller goals throughout the year. Not capturing all but one of your goals in the course of an MLL season is definitely something to be extremely proud of, and I am. I think the experience the team went through in 2014 will create a confidence amongst the group moving forward that will make them even tougher to play against next year and even more hungry to capture the ultimate goal of a Championship.
For me, even coming up short of the title this year is overshadowed by the time I had with the group, the effort we all put forth, and the laughs we had. At the beginning of the season I thought retiring on top was by winning a Championship, but I’ve since realized that you can retire on top without one.
What advice can you give to a young lacrosse player that is hoping to continually find success within the game and move on to higher levels of competition?
K.L: The best advice that I can give is to just enjoy the sport of lacrosse. There are so many little aspects to game of lacrosse that no one person can encapsulate all of them, but if you focus on developing your natural strengths to the best of your ability, focus on having a positive attitude and focus on having fun playing with your friends, whether it’s on the field or in the backyard, you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing. And if you enjoy it you’ll keep pushing your boundaries and keep increasing the amount of time you put in.
One thing I would also mention is that you shouldn’t worry about recruiting. Work on your skills, develop as a player and be the best you can be. If you want to play in college, you will fit in somewhere. It doesn’t have to be D1. We have D2 and D3 players in the MLL. Just be you and do your best. Things will work out.