Isabelle Leon dodges defenses, leads Olivet to successful season
Sophomore Isabelle Leon stands next to her teammates in the middle of the Olivet College soccer field tensely awaiting the game against Hope College on Oct. 21. This is the last time Leon will spend time standing during the game, because for the next 90 minutes she will be a red blur, racing up and down the field.
Leon stands 5-feet-4-inches tall, her dark curly hair most often pulled into a short pony tail and her face is defined by dark eyebrows and a bright smile. This fall Leon is a starting forward on the varsity soccer team -- with 10 goals, three assists, and 42 shots on goal it is safe to say Leon plays a big role on the Comets offensive attack. Coach Kim McGowan hopes to see another five goals from Leon, putting her at 15 and tied for the most goals in the conference.
According to teammates sophomore Emily Reinecke and freshman Emma Essen, Leon’s speed and energy have made her a dynamic player for the Comets, but her ability to find opportunities throughout the game truly makes her a deadly player. “She makes the most of opportunities…she always capitalizes...” Reinecke said, while Essen praised Leon for her competition mentality. “Izzy brings her smarts and quickness to her position, which helps lead the team to a great win,” Essen said.
Leon began her soccer career at 5-years-old when her parents placed her into a children’s soccer league. “I hardly remember most of it, but I had fun, and the after practice snacks were definitely a highlight,” Leon said. Over time, Leon’s love for the game grew, and her desire to play was recognized at East Kentwood High School, where she played on the junior varsity team for half of her freshman season before moving to varsity.
She spent her remaining three and a half seasons playing forward on East Kentwood’s varsity soccer team and served as team captain her senior year. Leon also ran cross country all four years of high school, and ran fast enough to qualify for the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) State Championship meet. Leon graduated with over 500 other students in May 2014, that fall she became a member of the Olivet College women’s soccer team. According to Leon, it was the persistence of previous coach, Hans Morgan, that convinced her to come to Olivet as a freshman.
Other teams in the MIAA may not share these same affections, especially after losing to the Comets by five goals, but according to her teammates, Leon is always positive and honest, something they appreciate greatly.
“She might not scream at the top of her lungs, but she’ll always be honest with you and let you know when you’re doing well and not! She is always the person I go to for a pick-me-up because I know she’ll always be honest with me,” sophomore teammate Dominique Giroux said. Leon said it best herself: “I never go into a game thinking I’m going to lose, if I did there would be no point in playing the game.”
Leon studies criminal justice and hopes to some day work as an undercover investigator. “I feel like I could make a good undercover cop…because I look so young, and because no one would suspect me of anything. I could probably do well working undercover at a high school, or a similar place,” Leon said, mentioning that she felt a brief future in law enforcement would be possible before entering into an undercover position.