The YMCA Rome Arsenal soccer program has always held itself to a standard of not only winning matches, but having a profound relationship within the community.
And when it came time to select a new director of coaching, the program was willing to go all the way to Maine to find the right person.
Lucas LeVesque was named the new director earlier this month, giving him management control of Arsenal’s 18 different Academy teams. And while this is his first introduction to soccer in Georgia and the South, the program believes he’s up to the challenge.
“At the YMCA we have this idea about youth development, social responsibility and being a caring and kind-minded individual,” Arsenal Director Chase Watterson said. “We try and carry all of those things to the soccer club too. And Lucas spoke to all of those things.”
LeVesque comes to Rome not only from Maine, but from one of the northernmost parts of the state in Fort Kent. It was there he turned the University of Maine-Fort Kent women’s soccer team into a powerhouse in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
Taking a chance and trying something completely new is exactly what LeVesque wanted when he moved on from Fort Kent. More importantly, it’s happening at a place that believes in more than just winning matches.
“I was at a point where I wanted to try something different and take on a new challenge,” LeVesque said. “Once I starting learning about Arsenal and the Rome community, I thought it was a tremendous fit.”
In 2004 he became the coach of UMFK, a program that had never had a winning season before he arrived. But the Lady Bengals won 206 games and six national championships over the next 13 seasons, including four straight titles to end his tenure.
But before this season, the coach and his family became interested in trying something new and moving further south. And after a few interviews with Arsenal, he started to become a fan of Rome’s small-town feel.
“I think Fort Kent was a community where everybody knew everybody and everyone was thoroughly involved,” LeVesque said. “And when we came down here for a few days, my wife and I really got a good sense of closeness to the Rome community.”
Those interviews were mainly directed by Scott McCreless, the director of the Arsenal select club. The process went on for a month, but it was in a panel, which included both Watterson and McCreless, that LeVesque truly shined above any other candidate.
“We aligned on our philosophy about player development, our philosophy about understanding the bigger picture of athletics and sports,” McCreless said. “It’s more than just winning. It’s teaching kids good citizenship and good sportsmanship.”
Looking forward, LeVesque admits the long summer months may be an adjustment for him in the South. But coaching in a place without snow on the field for five months a season is a benefit he’ll gladly take in exchange.