A 4-ever mindsetPublished 10:05pm Saturday, May 3, 2014
Leverone driven by memories of her brother
Every goal scored, every assist handed out, every play Emily Leverone makes on the soccer field this season is about more than its effect on the scoreboard. It’s a tribute to a brother who passed into eternity too soon.
Leverone, a senior forward for Nansemond River High School, has made a difference for the Lady Warriors in her final year playing the sport. In consecutive games April 22-24, she recorded five goals and an assist over three contests to help her team go 2-1 during the stretch.
Her performances helped her earn the title of Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
She acknowledged her contributions, but deflected the credit to those helping set up her shots.
“It wouldn’t have happened without them and all their effort,” she said.
The team and its coaches have dedicated their efforts to support Leverone this year. In doing so, they have joined her in honoring her brother, Nick Leverone, who died in August in a car accident at the age of 19.
Nick Leverone also had played for Nansemond River, wearing No. 4, and benefited from a father who was well-versed in the game.
Don Leverone was born in the U.S., but as the son of a career Navy officer, spent nine years of his childhood in Europe, where he played soccer. Now in the U.S., he trains youth, college and professional soccer players.
When his children showed interest in the sport, they could hardly have been in a better situation.
“Emily just showed a strong aptitude at a young age,” Don Leverone said.
She started playing at the age of 4 in the Churchland Soccer League, and “then from there I joined a boys’ soccer team,” she said.
“It was my choice to try out for it,” she said. While playing with the boys was not unusual for girls at younger ages, she noticed she was virtually the only one, later, at the U-15 level. She, too, eventually transitioned back to girls’ teams.
Around that time, Leverone participated in the Olympic Development Program, which enabled her to play in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
She is also well-traveled in the U.S. after two years with Beach FC and one with Virginia Rush Soccer Club, operating in the Elite Clubs National League.
An injury may have cost her a chance to play in college.
“Last year, when I tore my (medial collateral ligament) and my meniscus, I decided that I wanted to go to Virginia Tech and study biochemistry and not play soccer in college,” she said.
“She wants to follow her mother’s footsteps and be a physician,” Don Leverone said.
She said she thought of not playing for the Lady Warriors this year because of the injury, but after her brother’s death, that all changed.
She said she felt she had to play “just to honor him, just because he loved playing for Nansemond River so much.”
“I’m very proud of her,” Don Leverone said. “She’s what we call an overcomer, and she thinks of others before she thinks of herself, and it didn’t surprise me that she would feel like she would be letting down her team, her brother” if she did not play.
Now, playing what she expects will be her final season of soccer, and wearing No. 4 in honor of her brother, Emily said she is driven to give her all on the field “just knowing that he’s watching all of them now probably.”