July 16, 2014

Team USA Dorm Tour with Captain Kevin Leveille

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive | World Lacrosse 2014

DENVER – Team USA captain Kevin Leveille has led the team off the field probably just as much, if not more, than on the field during the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship.

From arranging for personalized dorm nameplates once the final roster was named just ahead of the competition, to starting a tradition of passing around a symbolic cowboy hat, named the USAward, to a player of the game after each contest, Leveille, the oldest player on the team at 32 and Major League Lacrosse's all-time leading goal scorer, has provided timely and diligent leadership.

The hat idea was inspired by the New York Rangers' Broadway hat, and Leveille also started the Dirty Rat Award for every game with the MLL's Rochester Rattlers, which is a necklace with a rattlesnake tail attached to it.

"It keeps everybody involved. We're all leaders here, so it's good to spread around the leadership," said Leveille, who was voted team captain the day before the team arrived in Denver. "That's stuff that is important."

In the spirit of leadership, Leveille took Lacrosse Magazine around the team dorms at University of Denver, to give fans a look at where and how the 23-man roster, plus alternates, coaches and support staff have spent the last week-plus. Check out the video. It starts in the "bunker," where the team hangs out a lot for fun and for business, watching tape of games recorded off ESPN.

The team had an off day Wednesday, ahead of Thursday's semifinal game against the winner of the Israel-Australia quarterfinal. They had a brief team meeting and took some team pictures on the DU campus, before heading to a group dinner, families included, at Maggiano's Italian restaurant, a favorite of head coach Richie Meade.

Another note on the USAward: the player who earns the hat for a particular game carries the flag onto the field for the next and picks the player who gets it next. It's taken seriously, as Rob Pannell, who scored seven goals on Tuesday night against the Iroquois Nationals to get the nod, wore it while eating lunch at the DU dorms Wednesday.

The group has become very close since the final 23-player roster was named June 30, with each knowing that they were no longer competing against each other for spots on the team, but now the sole goal of winning a gold medal.

The 25 players here in Denver have a constant GroupMe chat going on their phones, to communicate even outside of team meetings or in-person group settings. No one is safe from jokes, and clips, memes are shared with everyone. The latest thing going was talk about "Durkin Island," after defenseman Tucker Durkin limited Lyle Thompson in the team's win over the Iroquois. Marcus Holman, the team's designated fashion director, also tells each player what to wear to a particular team function or meeting via the chat, so everyone is on the same page and in uniform.

"You have to enjoy every little piece of it," Leveille said. "Everyone has come together really quickly and really well. It shows on the field how tight we are."

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