Jeb Brovsky has always been one to stand out on the field and stand up for what he believes in, but before he was selected 19th overall by Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the 2011 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft, he didn’t know exactly what to expect from playing professional soccer. Now, after completing his rookie season, things have started off better than he could have ever imagined.
“Playing in college, I kind of had this dream of what it was going to be like in the pros and how many fans were going to be there, and it’s nothing what I expected,” said Brovsky. “It’s more. The fans in Vancouver are unmatched and the passion that they bring is amazing. I couldn’t be happier playing in front of them.”
That love has been reciprocated by many Whitecaps FC supporters. Brovsky was a bright spot for the ‘Caps in his rookie season, filling in for other players at first, but later earning his spot amongst a near full-strength roster.
“The time I’ve seen has been amazing, but I know I’m not out there to kill minutes and to fill into someone’s shoes,” stated the versatile Brovsky, who saw time at both midfielder and defender. “I know that I’m here to push guys. I want to be the best midfielder in this league someday and I’ll keep working until I get there.”
Can I kick it? Yes you can
Like many players on Whitecaps FC, Brovsky took up soccer at a young age. He was barely a toddler when he started playing, but says that he was practicing his kicking form long before then.
“I think my dad even put a ball in my crib and I started whacking it around,” said Brovsky. “It was destiny from then on.”
He could not have gotten to where he is today without learning mental toughness at a young age. He credits youth coach Tim Schulz for instilling that mentality.
“He would kick me out of practice at eight-years-old and really gave me that tough love that I needed. I would play with 13 or 14-year-olds when I was 10 and he would be harder on me than any other kids. That really taught me that nothing is handed to you. If you want something you have to really have that drive.”
Like teammate Gershon Koffie, Brovsky idolized Zinedine Zidane. His favourite team was always Manchester United, so he also looked up to Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. Learning tricks from watching them, Brovsky is now excelling in his own professional career.
“When Roy Keane would get into a tackle, you’d see new life from the Manchester United boys,” said Brovsky. “I try to be a little bit of a mixture, get forward and play some creative balls or be simple and get into a hard tackle. My game is finding that balance and those guys really influenced that for sure.”
Respect your elders
Brovsky enjoyed life as a rookie, even if that required a little extra to earn the respect of his teammates.
“When we went down to Phoenix [during preseason], the vets told us that we had to do a rookie idol, so all of us rookies had about three hours to prepare a song and a dance. I won’t get into details, but I think I took home the trophy and I think the boys loved it as well,” Brovsky said.
“Rookie life is what you make it,” he explained. “Some rookies come in and they’re afraid to be social around the team or to ask questions and learn. They’ve been in your shoes, they’ve been a rookie and they’ve been young. They really know the right paths and the wrong paths and I’m trying to soak it all in.”
Peace of mind
Brovsky is not only a rising young soccer player; he’s also a community leader and an ambitious agent of social change. Majoring in both Business Management & Entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame, as well as International Peace Studies, he combined his passions to create his non-profit foundation, Peace Pandemic.
“Peace Pandemic is a foundation that basically creates soccer camps worldwide for kids. My vision is that soccer can change the world for the better with anything: hatred, poverty, hunger, women’s rights. I think that soccer has the power to disband all stereotypes and cross many cultural boundaries.
“I’m trying to basically connect kids from all around the world and disband those stereotypes and what they think of other countries. For instance, if a kid has a camp in the United States, he has the chance to become pen pals or friends with a kid in Iraq. I think if these kids grow up knowing these differences and knowing what the other kid is going through on the other side of the world, it will connect them in a way where they can say ‘we’re both soccer players, we both have something in common’.”
His work saw him named MLS W.O.R.K.’s Humanitarian of the Month for July, as well as being hnoured as Whitecaps FC Humanitarian of the Year. During the off-season he’ll be headed to New Delhi, India, to conduct soccer camps with his Peace Pandemic organization.
“I think I am a bit of a dreamer, but I think the world needs more dreamers,” said Brovsky. “All I can hope is that I’m a pebble in the water and I can create a big ripple. If more professional athletes took that on themselves, I think we could do amazing things.”