The Labour Day long weekend is often thought as the last gasp of summer. When people head to the lake, finish up some renovations around the home, or enjoy those last sunny days of rest and relaxation.
For Brett Levis, he is longing for the latter.
The Vancouver Whitecaps defender arrived in Saskatoon on Sunday — after a few winks of sleep — to be a special guest host and mentor at the Saskatoon Revolution fall soccer camp.
“I’m happy I’m here,” Levis said as a series of drills took place around him. “I haven’t been home since I left for pre-season in January. This is my city. I love it, I love coming home to see my good friends and see these kids at the camp.”
“It puts a smile on my face.”
Making the visit all that much sweeter for Levis is that most of the Revolution players running the camp are lifelong friends or former players from his University of Saskatchewan Huskies playing days. However, the most savory part of this visit was Levis’ performance the night before.
For the first time in his Major Soccer League (MLS) career, Levis was named man of the match. His Whitecaps defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 Saturday night at B.C. Place in Vancouver as Levis darted across the field, making timely tackles and shoring up the left flank of the field.
“Obviously a cherry on top of the win that we got,” he said. “A couple of days before the game I knew I was coming home and in the back of my mind I was like, ‘How cool would that be if I could have a really good game? What if I got man of the match and I get to come home and see these kids?'”
Well, he did it.
With celebrations lasting a few more hours into the night and adrenaline still pumping through his veins, Levis was barely able to sleep before boarding an early Sunday morning flight to Saskatoon.
“It was a really quick turnaround,” he said. “I never sleep very well after a game.”
After an up-and-down career to this point, it seems as though Levis has gained real traction at North America’s highest level of soccer.
He made his way through the academy to earn his first contract with the team in 2016. Just two months after signing that deal, Levis tore his ACL during his first MLS start. The gruesome knee injury sidelined Levis for about 10 months, including a majority of the 2017 season, but it’s not affecting how Levis approaches every aspect of the game.
“The more games you play, the more comfortable you are and the more your brand grows,” he said, admitting that Saskatoon is his brand. “I think that’s more important for Saskatoon soccer and to grow soccer in Saskatchewan.”
Revolution captain Jordian Farahani couldn’t be happier to see his old friend stop by the soccer camp during his week off from Whitecaps duties as the amateur men’s team gears up for the Toyota Challenge Trophy — Canada’s national men’s soccer championship — taking place Oct. 3 to 8 in Saskatoon.
“I’m buzzing about it,” Farahani said with an ear-to-ear smile. “(Revolution players) are probably more excited than the kids to have (Levis) out here.”
It says a lot about a guy when one of the best performances of his career isn’t even the favourite part of his weekend, but that’s just how seriously Levis takes his home fans, and the growth of soccer in his own backyard.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “I’m so grateful that I’m able to be a special guest at a camp like this and come home and help out when I was in (the kids’) position just a few years ago.”
He knows the fans in Saskatoon will always have his back, especially if he keeps up with his strong performances that might get him on a Team Canada squad in the near future.
“Hopefully it’s hard for them to avoid me,” Levis said of his Team Canada chances. “The support I get is unparalleled.”