EP grows strong families through rich traditions
We see youth sports as an experience where our children develop their athletic abilities, learn teamwork, grow social skills, foster friendships and have fun. On unique occasion a young athlete progresses in their chosen sport and shows ability and the potential to progress to a high level of competition and perhaps join the professional ranks. Statistical estimates will say that this is very rare. In Football the percentage of high school football players who go on to play NCAA football is estimated at 6.5% and the percentage of NCAA players who go on to the NFL is estimated at 1.6%.
Eden Prairie parents Fred and Marcia LeVoir have lived the life that defies the odds. Their son Mark was a standout at Eden Prairie High School, continued his career as a starting offensive lineman at Notre Dame and then went on to a six-year career in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Saint Louis Rams and the New England Patriots.
We wanted to meet with Fred and Marcia to find out what it was like as parents as Mark progressed through his journey.
We should note that the LeVoir family has enjoyed a rich tradition of football. Fred’s uncle, Babe LeVoir starred for the University of Minnesota in the 1930’s, winning a national title. Son Matt LeVoir played at Northern Illinois and son Steve LeVoir had a great career at Saint John’s University.
After high school Mark was highly recruited. Name a big school and Mark was high on their list. Fred will tell you that he wanted Mark to patiently look over all of the wonderful opportunities that were in front of him. This patient approach changed when Mark and Fred visited Notre Dame. At the recruiting visit Mark and Fred toured the campus, then met with the administration and the football staff on a long and exciting day. Toward the end of the day, Mark told Fred that he wanted to go by himself and visit the locker room. Upon completing this visit Mark met up with Fred – with company. It seems that at least 10 Notre Dame players wanted to meet Fred and urge Mark to come to Notre Dame. It was then that Mark told Fred “I am going to Notre Dame”. Fred may have had tears in his eyes when he tells this story.
Mark had a great career at Notre Dame as a starting Offensive Tackle for three years – NFL talent was there in Mark. As his senior year came to a close and the NFL Draft was approaching finding a Sports Agent to represent Mark was next. Fred and Marcia will tell you that Charlie Weis at Notre Dame was invaluable in helping Mark and his other players in this process. Charlie had been in the NFL previously and personally knew many of the Agents. Just as Agents have scouting reports on players, players have the same reports on Agents. Coach Weis conducted a meeting with all of his players and their parents to talk about the professional process, the transition from the college game, and how to best select an Agent.
Fred told us that the Agent selection process was an interesting one. Not surprisingly, some Agents interviewed were overly aggressive, perhaps not showing the “total person” concern and some were quite good. Marcia wanted an agent that showed complete integrity as a person, was not impressed by flashiness. She was looking to see that the individual was realistic and fully explained how the entire process worked. Integrity was also critical for Fred, but he also wanted someone with a keen business perspective. He wanted to know what the about the Agents experience with offensive line players and he also wanted to know about the Agents’ relationship with various teams. The Agent chosen was Ethan Locke, formerly a professor at Florida State. The family was unified in knowing that Ethan came to the table with the full package for Mark.
The NFL Draft day was one of great anticipation for Fred, Marcia, Mark and family. This day provided an unexpected twist. Mark was not drafted. As you might expect this was not necessarily a happy moment. Then the realization became apparent that Mark was a free agent and could now negotiate with any team. The phone began to ring. One of the calls was from the Chicago Bears and Mark’s career as an NFL player began.
The NFL game day at the LeVoir home were always exciting and full of anticipation. If Mark’s game was not televised locally Fred and Marsha knew the establishments with the most televisions. Marsha will tell you that her heart beat faster when she saw Mark in the game on TV. One of her cherished moments was seeing the camera isolated on Mark and Randy Moss hugging in the end zone after a touchdown. A great moment for Fred was when Mark was with the Patriots in a game versus the Jets. Mark made an absolutely incredible block on cornerback Fred Strickland. Take a look at this play on YouTube “LeVoir trucks Strickland”. You will clearly understand the moment. This writer sat with Fred for two seasons of Eden Prairie High School football and you can be assured that while you are watching, you feel like you are in the game.
The LeVoir family always stressed the importance of God, Family, Team and Academics in their family – believing that your best is what’s important and what’s important is the kind of Man/Woman you are and will become started and ended each day in the home. Mark is now retired and works as a Sr. Account Manager at Aqueduct Technology and is co/founder of Boston Biopharma. Brother Matt is a Staging Team Leader at Arrow Systems Integration and Steve works for General Mills as a business category manager. Sister Bridgett is in the armed forces serving in the Air Force. Brother Andy resides at home in Eden Prairie.
It is interesting to note that when speaking with Fred and Marsha and recounting great moments following their son’s football careers…a great moment was a great moment whether it was at Eden Prairie High School, Northern Illinois University, St. John’s, Notre Dame or the NFL. The LeVoir’s are a great family and what we have written is only part of their story. They are wonderful neighbors to all of us in Eden Prairie.