There was a time in Charles Ryan Leveille’s life that he wanted to abandon the sport of speedskating.
After breaking his back while training for the 2004 U.S. Speedskating Championships, Leveille struggled with his focus once he finally made his return to the ice. He pictured another life-threatening injury, and knowing that the injury to his back was one inch away from paralysis, he didn’t want to put his life in jeopardy for a sport.
“It wasn’t easy,” Leveille said of returning to the ice. “I just wasn’t confident, I didn’t want to risk my life.”
So he quit. But his absence from the sport didn’t last long.
Shortly after moving to Knoxville, Tenn. with aspirations of enrolling at the University of Tennessee, Leveille was contacted by his former coach Tony Goscowitz, who convinced the Dawsonville native to move with him to Milwaukee and train for long-track speedskating.
Eight months later, Leveille was headed to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, and five years after that he will be inducted to the Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame as one of the Elite 10 athletes of the area. An honor that caught Leveille by surprise.
“I didn’t even realize it was happening,” he said. “It’s a huge honor and was unexpected. I’m really happy to be from that area and the honor makes me speechless.”
Still living in Milwaukee and training, Leveille won’t be able to attend the ceremony. He’s gotten over his fear of the short track, and even defeated Apollo Anton Ohno during the 2007 World Championships.
“All the racing I’ve done has been good,” Levielle said. “I’m happy with my progression.”
He hopes that progression will lead him back to the Olympics in both the short track and long track competitions. Leveille is training for the U.S. Short Track Speedskating Trials in September and long-track trials in October.
“I’ve been on the ice for four years and have evolved a lot as a skater,” he said. “I feel confident, but you never know.”
What he does know is that this will be his last season skating. Whether he qualifies for the Olympics or not, Leveille plans on retiring and moving back home to Dawsonville.
The Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is located in the Northeast Georgia History Center on the campus of Brenau University.
The History Center will recognize athletic excellence at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m., Aug. 29, at the Georgia Mountains Center in downtown Gainesville. Guest speaker Damon Evans, Athletics Director for the University of Georgia, will help honor 15 Northeast Georgia Athletes and one highly successful team. There will be five retired athletes inducted into the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. An additional “Elite 10” athletes, some of Northeast Georgia’s best athletes of the last 10 years.
Table sponsorships are available for $350, and table sponsors may choose to have their table host one of the athletes to be recognized on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of individual tickets are available for $25. Call the History Center at 770-297-5900 to make your reservations.