Troy Buchanan senior soccer forward Levi Caldwell has put together quite an impressive senior season, notching 13 goals and six assists as of Oct. 10, a continuation of what has been a solid career that’s seen him enjoy a great deal of success.
Having been playing since he was three years old, Levi has also wrestled (seventh grade through sophomore year), and played tennis - where he was No. 1 in doubles and No. 2 in singles in the spring. It’s soccer, though, where he has truly excelled and impressed people - including his coach the past two years at Troy, Ben Johnstone. And not just during games, but off the field as well.
“What stands out about Levi is that he can handle the truth, even when it is not what he wants to hear,” said Johnstone. “He takes feedback seriously and reflects on both compliments and criticism the same way. That is his best ability.”
Getting to that point has been a lifelong journey for Caldwell, who credits his parents and those around him for helping him excel.
“My parents are the main influences. They put me in soccer when I was so young and have spent the time and money to keep me in it for all of these years,” he said. “My peers are also another great influence, without my team I wouldn’t be anything. They encourage me and pick me up as I do them. The friendships and the memories I’ve made through soccer keep me eager for more.”
Johnstone knew as soon as he met Caldwell that he was going to continue to be a successful player.
“From day one I knew Levi had the character and quality to be a top player and difference maker. It is not surprising to me to see him having this success with the team,” said the Troy coach. “Sometimes when players have success, receive a lot of compliments, and get more attention from the media, it can put a dent in their ability to continue the habits and actions that got them there. It can be an ego trap that many get caught up in. I do not see that as a trap that Levi will fall into. I believe he is wise enough to remember that being a good teammate, working hard and striving to be a great human will allow him to continue to maximize his potential.”
Early in his high school career, Caldwell began creating memories that he holds close to this day.
“My first goal on varsity as a freshman was very special to me because I really wanted to prove myself to my teammates and coach because I was only a freshman,” he said. “It was a new feeling for me even though I’ve scored in countless club games, just something about scoring as an underdog felt great. Especially since the game ended 1-0, with mine being the only goal.”
Johnstone also has several fond memories of Caldwell - largely revolving not just around his offensive play, but also as a defender and learner.
“This season my favorite moment of Levi’s was collecting three assists in a 3-2 win conference matchup against Timberland. Something we have spent a lot of time on is Levi’s ability to collect information as he is running with the ball and dribbling,” said Johnstone. “That game was a big step for us as a program, and Levi collecting three assists was a great objective measure of his improvement in this aspect of his game.”
Johnstone added that Caldwell’s performances in a tournament earlier this season stands out to him, with an added note about his overall approach to not just offense, but defense as well.
“Another special moment for Levi is contributing three great performances in the St. Charles Tournament. Levi scored multiple goals including two clutch plays in the final vs. Pattonville,” he said. “And one piece of insight to Levi’s leadership is that he defends with the same intensity as he attacks. Levi is a big part of our attacking strategy and it is common to see the ‘captain and goalscorer’ as a guy who defends when he wants to or on his own terms. Levi has aligned himself and his actions to the team’s intentions and he is a great role model in our school.”
While his coach pointed out his efforts on defense help him stand out, Caldwell has always been a goal scorer.
“Ever since I was little I loved being up top and the one to score goals,” he said. “The beginning of high school turned over a new leaf for me, proving I could perform against players much older than me. It made me realize I could have a lot of success in the sport.”
His success and love for the game doesn’t just impact him on the field, but off the field as well.
“I love soccer. It has not only helped me physically and competitively but it has helped me as a person overall,” noted Caldwell. “I’ve been the captain of my club teams and high school teams all growing up. That has taught me leadership and how important it is to try your best every day. When things get tough mentally, soccer is there to keep me fresh. As soon as I’m on the field, the only thing that matters is the task at hand, and everything outside of the game leaves my mind. Life would be boring without soccer no doubt. The competitiveness of soccer is like a drug to me and I can’t get enough of it.”
What comes after such a strong high school career?
“Levi has great aspirations to play in college,” said Johnstone. “He is a great student academically and I believe any college will be getting a great player but an even better person were they to give him a chance.”
Caldwell added, “I plan to continue my soccer journey throughout college. I have many schools in mind that would be amazing to go to and several that are looking at me,” he said. “I haven’t made a decision yet and will be looking forward to committing to one of them.”