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Vancouver Island athlete receives $100,000 soccer scholarship

Chiara LeVesconte is set to leave the country in August to spend the next four years in Italy
18-year-old goalkeeper Chiara LeVesconte (middle) recently received a $100,000 scholarship to go study and play soccer in Italy. (Photo provided by Chiara LeVesconte)

It was while she was at her school’s library that soccer goalkeeper Chiara LeVesconte, 18, received the news that she was awarded a $100,000 scholarship to the Rome City Institute - one of Italy’s most prestigious universities for student-athletes.

Set to leave the Comox Valley in August, the young woman says that she is more than confident to take this next step.

Introduced to the sport when she was five years old, LeVesconte’s parents enrolled their daughter in the Valley’s Timbit league so she could deplete her inexhaustible energy.

“I was a very crazy kid. I had so much energy and adrenaline that I was just bouncing off the walls basically 24/7,” says Levesconte.

Rapidly developing a passion for the sport, LeVesconte quickly made a name for herself in the region as a versatile player, who played both as a goalie and a striker.

As the years went by, LeVesconte decided to take the competitive route and joined the Comox Valley United soccer club.

Impressed by LeVesconte’s skills, the coaches of Upper Island Riptide invited the 13-year-old to their team’s selection camp, where she first crossed paths with a coach that would impact her sports career.

“We started the training camp and realized that we didn’t have any goalkeepers trying out for the team,” says former professional soccer player and goalie coach Shel Brodsgaard. “Someone said that Chiara had a little bit of experience at keeping the goals, so I asked her if she wanted to be a goalkeeper. She came back the next day and said yes.”

Impressed by the young teen’s determination on the field, Brodsgaard took LeVesconte under his wing.

“The first thing that struck me was just how focused she was on trying to be good at something,” adds Brodsgaard.

Yet, more than just being a brilliant athlete, former Riptide coach Jerret Dickinson highlights that LeVesonte played an essential asset for the team.

“She was always the first player and last player that left any practice or game - even when we had horrible weather,” says Dickinson. “She was always positive, boisterous, comical, and above all very hard-working.”

The young woman ended up playing for two years with the Riptide, where coach Steph Steiner of the Vancouver Island Wave - a Victoria-based team part of B.C.’s highest-performing youth league - noticed the young athlete’s potential.

“I met her years ago when I was coaching at Saanich Fusion. She was one of my arch-rivals at the time,” recalls Steiner. “One year, she knocked my team out of the cup in a penalty shootout because she was so good.

“Then, it just happened that she was looking to play at a higher level. I had some connections and after getting in touch with her, she ended up joining the Wave.”

LeVesconte, who continued to live and study in the Valley, displayed unwavering dedication to her team. For the three years she played with the Wave, Chiara commuted three to four times a week to Victoria and Vancouver for practices and games.

“After school, my mom or my dad would drive me to Victoria,” explains LeVesconte. “On Sundays, I would spend most of my mornings either in Victoria for a league game or I would travel to Vancouver. It would roughly turn out around 18 to 24 hours a week of commuting.”

When asked by her peers how she endured hundreds of hours of commuting, she credits her parents, without whom this would not have been possible.

“I’m just the one playing,” says LeVesconte. “They’re the ones who are putting in their time, their work, their money, their everything.”

Throughout those years, Chiara played a pivotal role in guiding her club to consistently rank among the top three teams in B.C., eventually leading them to victory in a provincial cup.

“She was easily one of the best goalies in the province,” says Steiner.

It’s because of her skills showcased on the field that the Rome City Institute bestowed Chiara this $100,000 scholarship.

Starting a sports management undergrad in August, Chiara’s main goal while in Italy will be to gain experience and exposure.

“I’m really excited about the different playing styles. The game pace is so much faster than here,” says LeVesconte. “The goal is to put myself out there and hopefully end up playing professionally.”

Ultimately desiring to play for Canada’s national women’s soccer team, Chiara reiterates her readiness to take the next step that will lead her closer to her goal.

“Honestly, I’m not scared,” says LeVesconte. “I’ve been ready for a while now. As much as I’ll be missing my family, I’m just ready for a new step and I’m not really nervous and I’m very confident.”

RELATED: Comox Valley athlete set to represent Canada at the 2023 Youth Commonwealth Games

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