Striker Levasseur an up and comer for Canada

Marie Levasseur, left, in action for Canada at last summer's Pan Am Games. (Peter Power/CP)

It’s been an incredibly hectic 12 months for Marie Levasseur.

The speedy striker graduated from high school, began college at the University of Memphis, represented Canada at last summer’s Pan American Games and made her senior team debut in December.

The 18-year-old native of Stoneham, Que., is now gunning for a chance to play at next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament. The roster for the Canadian squad headed to Houston will be named on January 26.

Levasseur is hoping she’s one of coach John Herdman’s “mavericks” who gets the call.

Sportsnet recently caught up with the forward to find out how she’s adapting to being part of the senior team environment.

What was it like getting a call up to the senior squad?
It's made me very happy, because getting a call for the national squad is one of my biggest dreams. I really was very excited to be called by John [Herdman] and I want to make sure I do my best to be part of the team. We will see if I'm chosen or not, but I can say it's such a great experience to be with incredible players.

When did it hit you that you're playing alongside Christine Sinclair?
At the beginning, it was a pretty big thing. After that though, you just have to play and she's another player, as funny as that sounds. You can't be out there and thinking about it being Christine you’re passing to because you won't stay focused and it would be a distraction. Now, it's just normal.

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How would you describe your style of play?
I really love speed, agility and being technical. I'm one of those players who loves to push forward and I'm there to create a lot of final acts. I think coach Herdman wants me to be there to bring speed and creativity to the top part of the field.

You’re a graduate of the EXCEL program. How did your time with the U-17s and U-20s prepare you for the jump to the senior women's team?
I feel it was a very helpful experience. We talked about different parts of the team, different aspects, technical things, but also mental. We focused on nutrition and physically how to be ready for stressful situations. It was great preparation to teach me how it's going to be and how I can, as an individual, be at my best. They want all of us to be prepared for the senior environment, to compete and take that next step in our national careers.

You’ve had a busy 12 months considering your time with the U-23s at the Pan American Games, and heading off to college. What was your first NCAA season like at the University of Memphis?
Individually, it was a good season. Our team didn't perform up to our expectations, which was disappointing. But you're right, it was a very busy season with the Pan Am Games and then going to college after that. I look back on it as a big year and now I'm with the national team. I had to adapt to a lot of new experiences in one year. I'm grateful. It's a lot of work, but I'm grateful.

It must be comforting to have so many Canadians playing with you at Memphis, including your sister, Catherine.
It really meant a lot to me. I think we had 13 Canadians in Memphis. Actually, there were more Canadians than Americans. It was special to be around so many familiar faces and also with my sister. I know not everyone has an opportunity to play with someone from their family, their sister. Since we are away from home and being with someone you know so well was really helpful. We also have a bond out on the field.

How are your parents keeping up with all the developments in your career over the past 12 months?
They're very excited for me and just so supportive and helpful. They're always there for me and just happy. It's the best kind of support you can have.