By Piccolo Ocampo whitecapsfc2.com
VANCOUVER, BC – It’s not exactly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but Brett Levis shows a bit of a complex personality on the pitch that, at first glance, is hard to explain.
Never ruffled, the 22-year old shows a certain confidence beyond his years. Like a lion, he surveys the field with a dignified gait of someone in command, staying under control in the midst of frantic action.
But once the ball gravitates to his area of influence, he displays lithe and nimble qualities, almost deer-like in how he possesses the ball while eluding oncoming threats.
If you let Levis tell it, he actually didn’t always have that calm demeanour.
“I remember I was always antsy, running with my head cut off. As I got older, I learned from coaches and my mom,” Levis explains. “They told me to relax and be calm on the ball and you’ll be able to see and do more. This way you can see things better, you see things transpire and you’re able to play different.”
However, it may also be like the age-old chicken-or-the-egg question. Has his poise allowed him to succeed, or does his confidence root from his past experience?
“He was incredibly successful at all the other levels he’s played at and he takes confidence from that,” Whitecaps FC 2 head coach Alan Koch suggests.
The previous feats do make for quite a resumé for Levis. At 15, he was named Male Youth Player of the Year by the Saskatchewan Soccer Association. In high school, he bagged team MVP honours while leading the Centennial Chargers to the provincial championship in 2010.
At the University of Saskatchewan, Levis led his squad on a gradual climb that culminated in a conference championship as a senior.
“In my first year, we didn’t make the playoffs. Second year, we made the playoffs. Third year, we made it to the nationals. Fourth year, we won Canada West,” Levis looks back fondly. “It was unbelievable. There was a lot of doubt even from within the community that a team like U of S could beat UBC or Alberta, that we didn’t have it in us. I’m very happy to have been a part of changing that.”
A memory bank of success to draw from has aided Levis in his first year of professional soccer with Whitecaps FC 2. This was most evident on May 31 at Thunderbird Stadium.
After dispossessing an opposing player at centre-pitch, Levis navigated through traffic and slipped by two Arizona United SC defenders before launching an 18-yard left-foot beauty into the net. It was that escape-ability reminiscent of a young buck on full display.
“He’s a naturally-skilled player with the ball. He can dribble himself out of very tight situations, which not many players can do,” Koch prognosticated a few days prior. “He has a very cultured left foot. We ask him to go with it, when he does that he’s very dangerous. You want him on the ball because when he’s at his feet, good things happen.”
The elusive midfielder has shown he could separate himself from the pack – both in-game and on a broader perspective.
“You can tell that being from Saskatchewan, from a soccer perspective, he’s had to fight to make it. He obviously did very well there,” Koch explains.
Voilà, there it is.
Perhaps, in order to dissect Levis’ game, we have to look into where he’s from. With Whitecaps FC fast becoming Western Canada’s team, it also makes sense that Saskatchewan makes up a key ingredient of one of the club’s future stars.
“He’s now a pioneer essentially for his province and he’s very proud of where he comes from. He comes in here and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s not just playing for himself, he’s playing for his family and where he comes from too,” Koch said.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s not only playing for himself, he’s playing for his family and where he comes from too.” – Koch
With the importance of his background looming large, it was imperative that we look into the province for us to understand the proud Saskatchewanian. Upon a little bit of research on the province, one inevitably would come across a picture of Saskatchewan’s coat of arms.
The shield, in the provincial colours of green and gold, is supported on each side – a proud royal lion to the left, a graceful white-tailed deer to the right.
It turns out that the complexity of Brett Levis and his calm yet elusive abilities are rooted on the simplicity of the place he represents.
Levis and Whitecaps FC 2 welcome Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Thunderbird Stadium on Saturday.