From Paris, France, to Salina, Kansas, to Mercer Island.
That’s where Leo Berkley has lived and where he currently resides as a student-athlete at Mercer Island High School (MIHS).
The senior captain and attacking midfielder on the Islanders boys soccer team arrived in town three years ago and continued playing the game that he’s loved since the age of 5. Last season, he helped the squad notch the 3A state crown and he’s one of the leaders guiding the team to success this spring.
Lake Washington defeated MIHS (8-3-1 in league), 4-1, in the 3A KingCo tournament title match on May 10 and Liberty (Renton) beat the Islanders, 3-1, on May 13 to end the locals’ season at 8-5-1 overall.
Berkley — a first-team all-3A KingCo selection — said that the Islanders’ style of play consists of high pressing, working the ball through the midfield and switching the field. They also possess a solid defense and work ethic.
On the offensive front, Berkley and fellow captain and forward Kaleb Rawson lead the squad with five goals apiece in league. Defender Samir Lumba is the Islanders’ third captain and was named the league’s defensive most valuable player along with earning first-team honors. Other MIHS first-teamers are goalkeeper Jackson Barker and midfielder Edward Brown.
When Berkley set foot on the Island, he felt a connection with the tight-knit community.
“You can just tell once you come here, everyone knows each other, everyone’s kind of close with each other, and that’s kind of what I’ve noticed with our team, also,” he said. “We’re not just teammates, we’re friends. We’ve been playing together for years just on the Island and for club, too. And they’re welcoming, too, so it was really easy for me to kind of integrate, especially through soccer.”
With college on the horizon, Berkley hopes to carry on playing soccer and keep his competitive juices flowing on the pitch. In the classroom, he’s especially interested in studying international relations.
In other MIHS all-league news, Fikay Abolade was named coach of the year; Rawson, defender Nick Chou and forward Lucas Galvin are second-teamers; and defenders David Lee, Julian Peters and Jonathan Headrick, midfielder Charles Frink and forward Ben Park are honorable mentions.
The Reporter asked Berkley a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When we’re taking a test or something like that or writing an essay and then there’s just someone making a lot of noise out in the hallways or something like that. Making it hard to focus.
What’s a binge-worthy TV series that you’d recommend?
What’s a skill you’d like to learn?
I have always liked playing the piano in my free time, but I’ve never been amazing. So being able to master the piano would be pretty cool.
What’s something that you’re afraid of that maybe you’d like to conquer?
Just generally sometimes when I’m in a bad situation, I see the bad side of it too much, like fear of failing instead of succeeding. I can get in my head about that. Just trying to stay more confident probably would be a big one.
If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?
Probably Lionel Messi.
What’s a super power you’d like to have?
I’d like to be able to teleport, just to be able to go wherever I want around the world.
Let’s dig back into your Kansas upbringing. Anything in Kansas that you miss that you’d recommend to somebody who was going to go out there? Maybe a restaurant or something?
I have friends there, best friends I’ve grown up with — I miss them a lot. In terms of things to do, my grandpa has this pond that I love fishing at. I miss fishing out in Kansas, for sure. And then there’s some really good Mexican restaurants out there that I would definitely recommend.
What do you enjoy most about Mercer Island?
We’re surrounded by a lake, so just being able to go on the lake with friends during the summer, that’s pretty fun. I just love my soccer team, so just being able to play with them is always just an awesome thing.