Former Gamecock plays for USL PRO team in Charleston, S.C.
July 6, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Former Gamecock men's soccer player Mark Wiltse is still within the state of South Carolina, playing for the Charleston Battery in Charleston, S.C. Wiltse recently took time out of his training schedule to speak with GamecocksOnline.com.
Q: Tell the readers what team you are playing for, and what position you are playing.
A: I play right defender for USL PRO team, Charleston Battery.
Q: Have you noticed any major changes from the college game to the professional game?
A: The speed of play is faster, which is common any time you move to a higher level of play. The primary difference I have noticed is the capitalization on mistakes. There isn't much room for error. When a mistake is made or there is a loss of focus, the opposing team will quickly take advantage of any given situation.
Q: Are you playing the same position that you did when you were at South Carolina? Does your team have the same style of play as South Carolina?
A: At the University of South Carolina, I played right defender for three years and center midfield the majority of my senior year. I am playing the same position for which South Carolina recruited me. While some parts of our play are similar to South Carolina, things are also done differently. Defensively, our play is very similar to the Gamecocks.
Q: What is a typical practice like for your team?
A: Practice varies relative to our game schedule. Every practice begins with a 5-v-2 warm-up. If there is an upcoming game, we will have a technical session working on passing, shooting, crossing, etc. Lastly, we maintain a high level of fitness by playing small-sided 6-v-6 and running fitness at the end of practice.
Q: Talk about some of the venues that you play in. Do you have a favorite?
Q: What will you miss most about playing at South Carolina when the Gamecocks kick off the 2011 season in August?
A: There are some great stadiums in the USL. Personally, I love the Charleston Battery's stadium. The Blackbaud Stadium is a grass field, and the stands can hold about 5,500 people. Another fantastic stadium in the league is in Rochester (which is also where former South Carolina teammate Will Traynor plays). Rochester's stadium is enormous, modern, and has a great atmosphere to it.
I will definitely miss the atmosphere of the Graveyard (Stone Stadium). Playing in front of a big crowd of fans at the Graveyard and winning there have been some of the best soccer memories for me.
Q: After a successful college career and now moving on to the professional game, what advice do you have for younger soccer players who strive for some of those same goals?
A: The fundamentals are vital. As a young soccer player, look to improve all of the basic skills. Build a strong fundamental base and learn to use both feet at a young age. Everything else will be much easier to learn and soon fall into place.
**Photos courtesy of Vin Duffy