Brett Levis is on a path few soccer players in Saskatchewan have ever travelled on. The 21-year-old University of Saskatchewan grad has signed a pro contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps farm team.
"It's a little cliché but I'm pretty speechless," Levis said on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "It's very exciting and a big step for me to make."
Levis grew up playing soccer in Saskatoon. He was a high school star at Centennial Collegiate and won a provincial title in 2010.
'To make the jump is definitely going to be a challenge and will be hard.' - Brett Levis discussing the transition from university to professional soccer.
In four seasons with the Huskies, Levis scored 29 goals. He's proud to be the first Huskies player to sign a pro contract and knows there's a lot of work ahead in his career.
"It's definitely a higher level at the pros," he said. "It's a lot quicker. It's higher paced. To make the jump is definitely going to be a change and will be hard."
Levis will be joining the Whitecaps WFC2 roster playing in the team's inaugural season in the USL PRO league. The league will serve as a feeder system for Major League Soccer teams like Vancouver and Toronto FC.
The young star said he's working hard to get ready for the season-opener on March 29 and hopes to get the call-up to the MLS soon.
"In the past few months, I've ramped up my training on and off the field. Changing my diet to fit the professional status. And I'm just really getting mentally prepared."
Partnership between Vancouver and Saskatoon working
Levis is one the first examples of Vancouver's partnership with the University of Saskatchewan paying off. In 2013, the Whitecaps opened a Saskatchewan soccer academy in Saskatoon.
The academy is run by Bryce Chapman, who also coaches the Huskies men's program. Levis knows his pro contract will bring some welcomed attention to soccer in the province.
"To have the academy here is a tremendous accomplishment," Chapman said. "For kids to have a professional club academy here and they have the opportunity to travel to Vancouver every once in a while and have the Whitecaps take a look at them. When I was growing up, I never had that opportunity."