August 29, 2014

Rattlers' Leveille Retires from MLL After 10 Seasons

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

After a 10-year professional lacrosse career, Kevin Leveille — who earlier this summer became Major League Lacrosse's all-time goals leader only to be passed later by John Grant Jr. — has announced his retirement from pro lacrosse.

Leveille, one of the game's all-time great finishing attackman who accumulated more than 350 points, captained the Rochester Rattlers all the way to the MLL title game, and was also captain of Team USA in July at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL ) World Championship.

Leveille, who turned 33 earlier this month and is awaiting the birth of his first child, said he took being a "pioneer of the MLL" very seriously and, aside from racking up 273 career regular-season goals, was known as a player who cultivated team chemistry off the field, as shown in a video tour Leveille took Lacrosse Magazine on of Team USA's dorm at the world championships.

"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 in a statement announcing the news. "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."

Leveille shared his thoughts about his career, the Rattlers' 2014 season and the future of the game with the Rattlers' team website.

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?

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, faceoff 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.

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 percent 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 percent 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?

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 D-I. We have D-II and D-III players in the MLL. Just be you and do your best. Things will work out.


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