Athlete of the Issue: Michael Leon ’21


Tom Honan

According to Leon, his strengths are “pace, speed, agility, and a little bit of finishing.”

Michael Leon ’21 is a four-year Senior and member of the Boys Varsity Soccer team. Teammate Mo Nuhu ’23 said, “Michael is a role model for so many of us on the soccer team. He is a natural-born leader and tries to help everyone improve. He is a big brother to me and has helped me get through so much here. He makes an impact whenever he is present on the field with us.”

Describe your journey to come to the United States.

I was born and raised in Ghana. I left home when I was nine or ten to attend a soccer academy for four-and-a-half years. I played on seven teams in Europe. When I was fifteen-and-a-half, I came to America for the first time.

What do you love most about soccer?

I think it’s fair to say soccer is the only thing that I’ve known since I was a kid. I love everything about the game. If I’m having a bad day, I get out on the field and I feel like it’s just me and the ball, and nothing else matters at that point in time. 

What is your style as a player?

I think my strengths are pace, speed, agility, and a little bit of finishing. My style is basically getting the ball, getting behind, creating chances and final-third deliveries, as well as scoring and giving assists. My specialty is being a threat in the final third of the opening.

What is your favorite part of this team?

There is such a wide range of different people. You look at our team and there are people from all over. It gives us an opportunity to learn from each other. Ultimately, we are bringing people from different backgrounds and different experiences to reach a common goal. I think that is pretty unique.

How has the team adapted to follow COVID-19 precautions?

A lot of us, especially the Seniors, came in pretty excited for our Senior year. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that we are not going to have a season, but I think our mindset has changed to look at our situation from a different perspective. We have the whole year to be better as athletes, as teammates and as individuals, so we decided to focus on the basics and also on team bonding. We can just work on ourselves and on weaknesses we don’t usually focus on when we have a normal season.

What is your favorite memory from the team?

Last year, we had a game against Deerfield Academy under the lights with parents watching. I think that was the largest crowd I’ve ever played for in America. Every family was there cheering. It was rainy and cold but still good weather to play in. It was just perfect. I think we were down 4-0, and in soccer 4-0 is pretty hard to come back from. It was amazing how the crowd kept cheering. There was a switch in mindset, and we scored one goal after the other until we equalized in 15 minutes. We scored four goals in fifteen minutes. You could see the drive in the team, and we just fed off each other’s energy.

What advice would you give to other athletes?

I have three pieces of advice. Firstly, I would say that you should perfect your craft. I think the best athletes are self-disciplined and do what’s important when no one is watching. After the coach says practice is over and everyone is gone, the extra hours, extra training, and extra reps are important. Secondly, trying to always have the mindset of making your team look better, because if you come with the mindset that “I will come to make the next person better,” ultimately it has a ripple effect on every athlete on the team. Everybody wins. The third thing is I think you should enjoy it. You can only be on the ball for so long, so every moment you have, every single day out there you should enjoy. Have fun and have a smile on your face, even when it’s a bad game, because loss is also part of the game. Just enjoy every single moment of it, and remind yourself why you started playing in the first place.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.