Mark Wiltse, the 25-year-old USC graduate who was the Charleston Battery’s top choice at right back for most of 2013, announced his retirement from the game Sunday afternoon on Facebook.
I want to say thank you to the Charleston Battery and all of its supporters. I will be retiring from professional soccer. It has been an honor to play for and represent the Charleston Battery. Winning the USL Championship is and will always be an incredibly great moment in my life. Soccer has always been the defining motivation behind everything I do. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and support while representing the Charleston Battery. A special thanks to the Regiment for your unwavering presence. It has been an amazing three seasons that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you: Caroline Benton, Ross Almers, Jenny Kent Almers, Alexx Almerz, Jean Harkins, Beth Clerkin Jackson, Johnathan Ace, Nicki Ace, Mike Buytas and anyone else I may have forgotten for your encouragement and kind words throughout my professional career.
Wiltse was a decorated youth player from Virginia when he signed with the Gamecocks in 2006 and was named team co-captain before breaking his right leg in the first match of his senior season. He made his comeback with the PDL Central Jersey Spartans in 2010, and signed with the Battery in 2011. He made 17 appearances in both 2011 and 2012, helping the team to the USL PRO title in his second season, but started 2013 with an MCL injury.
Though he got only limited minutes during the Battery’s 2013 preseason, Wiltse was fit enough to claim the starting job in April. He held that role through most of July, until a broken nose and concussion sidelined him. He returned in August wearing a facemask.
During his time in Charleston, Wiltse also developed a second career as a model, and stayed on in the Lowcountry during the offseason. He was one of several locally connected players whose Battery contracts ended last fall, and his future had been the topic of much speculation.
Said Battery fan Jean Harkin, whom Wiltse named in his farewell note: “I have enjoyed watching Mark’s fearless play for the last three years. His tenacity, along with his speed getting from one end of the pitch to the other always made me smile. He has been a stellar Battery defender, and on a personal note, he is a truly nice, stand-up guy.”
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TOP IMAGE: Mark Wiltse looks for a target in the Battery’s 1-0 US Open Cup win over San Jose in May, 2016. Dan Conover photo.