Their stories, their emotions, their words. That, in a nutshell, is what this series on whitecapsfc.com is all about. What better way to get to know the 'Caps – your 'Caps – than to hear from them directly. No filter. No fluff. Just their words.
Today, Brett Levis reflects on his journey from Saskatoon after signing his first MLS contract.
My journey as a soccer player began in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Yes, you read that right.
I know people don’t often associate soccer with Saskatchewan, so you might be wondering how I got into the sport. I have my mom to thank for that. She played a big role in getting me involved at a young age and started coaching me from the very beginning.
I quickly developed a burning love for the game.
Everywhere I went, the ball went with me. Soccer was always a major part of my life and helped keep me out of trouble growing up. It also helped me through some really tough times.
My mom passed away from breast cancer when I was in grade 9. I was devastated. She had previously beaten cancer, but this time it came back and spread throughout her whole body. I sort of knew it was coming, but I was also young and thought that if she beat it once, she could beat it again. It was definitely a rough patch in my life because it pulled my family apart, but soccer allowed me to remain focused on the goals that I wanted to achieve in my life.
Now, my mom is the driving force behind everything I do – especially soccer.
Saskatchewan is a tough place to develop as a soccer player because other sports, like hockey, are much more dominant there. After all, it’s one of the coldest provinces in Canada.
But it’s still my home – and I’m very proud of it.
With that in mind, I felt the best opportunity for me at the time was to attend the University of Saskatchewan. The fact that I had already built a relationship with the university head coach Bryce Chapman, who now runs the Whitecaps FC Saskatchewan Academy, helped solidify the decision.
After playing two seasons with the Huskies, I realized how difficult it would be to break out of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). I came to the understanding that it was an extremely uncommon route with some road blocks.
Once I knew I was in this position, I had to trust my ability as a player and my coaches’ ability to develop my game and help me find opportunities to play outside of Saskatchewan. I continued playing at the university, but before my third year, Bryce convinced the Victoria Highlanders of the PDL to take me on in the summer. That’s when things started to move quickly.
After one summer in Victoria and another year with the Huskies, I was brought into Vancouver’s PDL team. Then, after one summer there and my final year with the Huskies, I had the opportunity to move up to the ‘Caps United Soccer League team, WFC2, in 2015.
My first year as a pro came with its ups and downs – I had an ankle injury midseason that kept me out for months. And I knew this could be a big year for me, so I took the offseason very seriously.
I remember being at the lake back home during New Years. It was the middle of winter and I had nowhere to run, so I ran across the frozen lake a few times to get my cardio in.
Good thing the ice didn’t crack.
Even though I haven't played soccer in Saskatchewan for years now, the support and encouragement that I receive from people back home is unbelievable. I am so thankful to have so many people cheering me on. I know my mom is still cheering me on, too.
She even cheered me on when she was in a wheelchair and it was freezing cold outside.
She was an amazing person – and I know I wouldn’t be here today without her.