For almost 15 years now two young men have played the most popular sport in the world together. Both hailing from Plymouth, Mass., Blake Nyman and Kyle Leavitt have a history together that Keene State College will only be part of for one more playoff run.
It’s their senior year at KSC and the two captains of the men’s soccer team have not only played all four years of their collegiate soccer careers together, but have also played every season and on every soccer pitch together since the fresh young age of eight years old.
Their history together is one containing much more depth than the sandbox in the backyard the two shared. Coming into college, both being recruited freshmen ready to earn their spots in hearts of tenured Head Men’s Soccer Coach Ron Butcher, the two decided to room together in the tight living compartments of a freshmen dorm room at KSC. Now living together in a house, the two are almost as inseparable as Lionel Messi and a soccer ball.
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Leading the men’s team to a 10-6-1 record with only one more regular season game, both Leavitt and Nyman have helped lead their team to the third place spot in the Little East Conference this season.
Coach Butcher said that his captains have been important to their team as leaders that they’ve been the reason for numerous wins over their four years.
“Well I always say good captains are worth one to two victories every year with their leadership qualities,” Butcher said. “I think with the last two years, [Nyman] and [Leavitt] both were captains as juniors and they probably are responsible for at least a few victories.”
Similar in work ethic but different in position, the two captains have taken on important roles both with Leavitt in the midfield and Nyman being center back.
Nyman remains to be one of the top defenders in the LEC. Butcher continued praising his two leaders for the players they are. “You know Kyle [Leavitt] is just a digger with one of those ‘never say die’ attitudes,” Butcher said.
“He is just a bull in a china closet. Doesn’t matter from start to finish, he plays the same way and that’s hard and he has the skills to back it up. Blake is a polished player. He’s a tough player. He’s probably what I call our only enforcer on the team. If you’re going to go 1-v-1 against Blake you’re going to have to earn that to get by him because he just doesn’t let you by, I don’t care what you do.”
The two players have given the program all they have over these last four years but they both said they’ve received so much more than soccer in return.
“I always preach that the Keene State [College] soccer program is like a second family to me,” Leavitt said. “They’ve been there in my times of need and dark times for me. They’ve proved to be a great support beam on and off the field. I don’t know where I would be without the coaches and the guys that I play here with… I’m very fortunate to play a collegiate sport. I love to play the game and Keene allows me to do that.”
Nyman chimed in with a similar response. “It’s like you have all your brothers up at school. You build good relationships on the field and off the field so it’s like a brotherhood.”
Leavitt and Nyman have that brotherhood in school and the relationship between the two is as strong as oak. When it comes to soccer, both players are able to put everything aside and do what needs to be done on the soccer field.
“When we’re on the field together it’s business,” Leavitt said. “We’re not afraid to yell at each other and get into it. That goes for the same at the house too, dishes need to be done or whatever the case may be.”
Nyman said their background lets them to be honest with one another on the field and that it helps playing on field allowing them to grow as players.
“We know one another’s styles, efforts and what they’re going to do on the field,” Nyman continued.
“We know what to expect from one another. Given our relationship and our background we’re not afraid to be honest with one another as well. So we’re not afraid to give praise and we’re not afraid tell one each other what they’re doing wrong as well.”
The two star players have come into their own coming to the end of their last seasons with the KSC program winning four of the team’s last five games. One of the games was won with Leavitt breaking a 0-0 tie in overtime with a shot bracing into the back of the net.
For college soccer programs at the D-III level, these four years tend to be the last chance to play for most players.
This is something that is tough on a head coach who’s been at the helm of a program for such a long time as Coach Butcher.
At the same time, having new talent constantly flow into such an achieving program always will excite the coach, no matter what players cycle through the Keene State soccer machine.
When asked about what he thought of losing Leavitt and Nyman next year, a look of sentimentalism drew onto the coach’s face.
“Well you know, the interesting thing, over 42 years, they [players] come and go,” Butcher said.
Butcher added, “When they leave, you think there’s never going to be anybody else like them. The funny thing is, somehow you go out, you recruit new players and you always find somebody like them but in the end, they never will be forgotten.”
Dalton Charest can be contacted