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Kiana Levac signs on with Laurentian Voyageurs
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Looking to resecure an OUA playoff berth that had become so customary through most of the past twenty years, there is little doubt that the Laurentian Voyageurs will search far and wide for top end women's soccer talent.

That said, it's still awfully nice when you manage to convince the very best from northern Ontario to stay at home to pursue both their academic and athletic dreams

"It's really exciting to have a local player join Laurentian," noted assistant coach Matt Cootes at the very start of the gathering that would confirm the commitment of GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) defender Kiana Levac to the fold.

"It's something that we are strongly supportive of," Cootes added. "We haven't developed a huge number of (post-secondary) players locally, so it's really nice to have someone coming, especially of Kiana's caliber."

A senior at Ecole secondaire catholique l'Horizon, Levac had more than a few good reasons to make the choice that she did.

"Since I was young, I have wanted to study in French," noted Levac. "Laurentian is one of the only universities that offers kinesiology in French. And my family have always been my biggest supporters, ever since I was little."

"Not seeing them as much would have been hard for me. Staying at home is so much better, mentally."

For as much as Levac has been on the university radar for a few years now, there is no argument that this next jump will require plenty of progress still to come in her game.

"I am a super shy person at first, but as centerback, I need to be very vocal," she said. "I need to open up that part of me right away. I am starting practices with them this month at the dome, so I am hoping that by doing that I will actually get to know the girls and be a lot more comfortable when the season comes."

Having played one year for L.U. back in the day before moving on to study pharmacy at the University of Toronto, assistant coach Lauren (Mirabelli) Chenard knows all too well the risk involved for those who underestimate the level of play in which the Voyageurs compete, week in and week out.

"The OUA is a different beast when it comes to soccer," she said.

Still, she and the staff are more than comfortable Levac is among those who are ready to handle taking that next step.

"There is the physical, kind of the look of a player, and then the technical skills that we have a baseline for," she said. "And coachability is obviously a big thing. Also, when they play the game, do they have the vision."

"Can they see the field; can they anticipate. Some of those things, you can't teach. We feel that she (Levac) definitely has that ability."

While the signing was clearly a big day for both Levac and the team, it was also the latest in a series of very positive moves that have been made at the home of the Horizon Aigles in terms of integrating sport as a key focus for a good percentage of their student body.

"For a lot of kids, sports are one of the reasons they like coming to school," said head of Physical Education Paul Renaud. "Some people enjoy the opportunity of playing and getting to learn at the same time."

"When I started (in this role) ten years ago, I wanted to change a little the culture that was here," Renaud continued. "I wanted to emphasize the importance of being part of "a family" and not just being part of a team."

"If you're not an athlete, maybe you're that fan who is coming out to support or maybe you're the one who is volunteering to do the lines or what not."

Still, when it comes to a member of the family moving on to continue their career, Renaud and company could not be more proud.

"It's awesome for us at Horizon to have one of our athletes succeed in a different sport," he noted. "We have had draft picks in hockey, we have had recruits in baseball, and now Kiana is our first in soccer."

"That speaks to what is going on in Valley East and the school."

Just one more area that the Voyageurs will continue to monitor as they develop under third year head coach Brian Ashton next fall.

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