Editor’s note: The following interview with Kevin Leveille is sponsored by SISU Guard, official mouthguard of Team USA. LaxAllStars is proud to be working with SISU and US Lacrosse to cover Team USA as much as possible!
Kevin Leveille might just be the best inside finisher and pure scorer to ever put on the red, white, and blue. He was a prolific scorer at UMass where he was selected as a 3-time All American. Leveille then played 11 super successful seasons in Major League Lacrosse, while also being selected to the 2014 USA men’s lacrosse team, and serving as the team captain.
Leveille scored 293 goals over those 11 season in MLL, with a ton of those goals coming from the inside. He retired as the no. 2 goal scorer in MLL history. Leveille is also seen by teammates and coaches as being extremely humble, and he now works on making sure the game continues to be played the right way and is accessible to more people.
Kevin Leveille is a living lacrosse legend, so take his words to heart, and use them to become a better you!
Interview with Kevin Leveille
LAS: If you had to sum up your experience on the 2014 Men’s National Team in 5 words or less, what would you say?
Kevin Leveille: Journey/experience > wins/losses.
Any words of wisdom for the 59 players trying out for the 2018 team this summer? What should they expect at tryouts?
Be yourself. Don’t try to recreate your game or who you are to fit the USA mold. You are in the top 59 current players in the USA, the World. Who you are and what you do on the field defines USA Lacrosse.
Given the timing of tryouts – right in the middle of MLL season – what is the best approach these players to take? Should they play in the MLL All-Star game too?
I tried out 4 times for Team USA and at least two of the tryouts were during the (MLL) season. It was challenging in the fact that you’re dealing with bumps and bruises coinciding with the MLL season but conversely there was no rust to shake off. Either way, I don’t believe it matters when the tryouts are, the players understand the opportunity and will be sure to bring their ‘A’ game.
The MLL All-Star Game is also a great opportunity and if possible, yes, they should definitely play. You simply shouldn’t take any opportunity to play any pro game for granted. Each player has a finite number of games and the MLL All-Star Game would be one that I’d have a hard time leaving on the table personally. In the short term it may be a bit taxing, but long-term, no brainer.
How would you describe the time and commitment it took to be on Team USA? The pressure to win?
My commitment technically started at my first tryout in 2002 but to truly describe the time and commitment it took for me to be on Team USA, I have to go back to some point in my backyard prior to hitting double-digits. What’s the point of playing if you don’t have the goal of representing your country one day? There was a point, early on, where it became a desire and the fire always burned…it still does. It honestly bugs me to not be a part of it again.
But, technically, after 4 tryouts over 12 years, 2 stints as an alternate, I was fortunate to make the team in 2014. The competition level is so high in the USA that in my opinion, there could be 3-4 US teams of completely different make-up that can truly compete to win the gold. If you can get yourself into the top 60-90 mix, you’re there but you then need to have some good fortune. Meaning you fit into the coaches scheme or fit well with the other top players in that window of time. Either way, you have to commit to doing all that you can, all throughout your career, when people are watching and when they’re not to position yourself to have a shot. It is a commitment that has no boundaries, no time limit. And, if you are in the mix, one of the 59 players that will tryout this Summer, whether you make the team or not, you are still a part of it and you still have a positive impact to the process and the outcome.
The pressure to win is natural. It’s not manufactured in any way. The pressure is based on a long history of US dominance but more importantly on the desire of the players and coaches within to succeed and be the best in the world. It’s an honor to wear the red, white and blue, with USA across your chest, and inherently Gold is the single goal.
As you look back on your experience, what are a couple of key things you wish you’d known going in to the World Championships in 2014?
Being an alternate in 2010 and traveling with the team to Manchester, England, I’m not sure that there was anything that I wish I’d known going into the WC’s in 2014. I do wish that we had some more time to bond as a group prior to the event.
The tryout process was long and challenging and lead right up to the Games. We went from competitors for spots to teammates virtually overnight and on the eve of the Games. We were a very close group, but more time to bond outside of the lines would have been to our benefit. I suppose I also wish I’d known that we’d play our worst game as a team when it counted most. If I’d known that, I would’ve done anything in my power to change that somehow.
Are there any teammates you had then who you expect to step up big for the 2018 Men’s National Team?
We had some exceptional first-timers in 2014; Rob Pannell and Tucker Durkin come to mind. They were pillars of our team in 2014 and will be certainly be poised to raise the bar in 2018. I think John Galloway could be an important addition in the cage.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give the next captain of Team USA?
Let it come to you but always aim to be reliable, steady and positive. Your responsibility is the to be a core source of consistency and steadiness for the group, both on and off the field. Understand the mission, what it takes individually and collectively to execute, and keep everyone on the path. Lead by actions first. It was a true honor to be voted a captain amongst captains and it’s by-far my greatest lacrosse accomplishment.
What is your most memorable moment from your experience on Team USA?
Wearing the colors. It’s hard to express the level of patriotism and honor that flows through your veins with the USA on your chest. Knowing that the opportunity has presented itself because of the efforts and sacrifice of fellow Americans, specifically your family, friends and those serving in the Armed Forces, is just so special.
Name one former Team USA teammate we should interview…
What is the first question we should ask him?
Looking ahead to the 2018 Games and based on your 2014 and 2010 experiences, what is your approach personally and what will be the key(s) to reclaiming the Gold?
Thanks for your time, Kevin!