MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Much like data types in math, the constant and variable also holds true in soccer as the technical ability in a player stays constant and the fitness level of the player varies.
That theory stays the same for West Virginia University men’s soccer midfielder Travis Pittman
, who has spent his summer playing the game he loves in anticipation for the 2012 season, his senior year.
“It’s really important, whether I’m playing or not playing, to stay fit,” Pittman explains. “I have all of the technical abilities, but it’s about staying fit and sharp and being able to run 90-plus minutes and still have more to go after that. If you can run 90 minute and your legs don’t get tired, then you’re going to run by opponents with no problem.”
The Manassas, Va., resident began his summer at home conducting his own workouts, followed by training three nights a week with the D.C. United U23 team and current WVU teammate and classmate Uwem Etuk
. Pittman then hit the Major League Soccer (MLS) circuit with teammate and classmate Eric Schoenle
to train with FC Dallas.
“It was a great experience to train with FC Dallas and the guys are great on the team,” Pittman says. “It took a few days to get adjusted to the speed of play, but after two days of training I began to fit in and played well there.”
Pittman followed that trip with a solo journey to train with Sporting KC, also of the MLS, where he was able to play with friends C.J. Sapong and Teal Bunbury, who are currently members of Sporting KC.
It was not only the play that caught Pittman’s eye while training with the MLS teams, it was the leadership that each team captain possessed, something he will definitely bring back to WVU for his final season.
“Hopefully I can bring that style and speed of play to the younger players because they’re going to have to help us out if we’re going to win,” Pittman explains. “I also took leadership notes from Jimmy Neilsen of Sporting KC and Ugo Ihemelu of FC Dallas.”
Much like everyone else in the world, Pittman and his teammates have taken to Facebook and started a group on the social media website where they can all make posts about reaching the common goal of winning a national championship.
“We’re all ready to win, so we’re coming back early to get a head start on the season, Pittman says. “We’re pretty focused this season and know what it takes to be successful.”
Adding to the challenge of winning is playing in a new conference as the men’s soccer team will switch leagues for the fourth time in school history and compete in the Mid-American Conference with the likes of annual powerhouse Akron.
“We can make history by moving to the MAC and getting a ring the first year,” Pittman says. “I don’t know much about the competition outside of Akron, but if we play how we’re capable then I don’t see how we can’t win the MAC and the national championship.”
For Pittman personally, he has grown over the years thanks to the direction of head coach Marlon LeBlanc and assistants Brian Johnson and Chad Brown.
“Coming in freshman year, you can get caught up easily with the college life,” Pittman says. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but Marlon, B.J. and Chad aren’t just good coaches, they’re good mentors for me. All three of them have told me I have potential, it’s just how bad I want it.”
Pittman will combine the maturity he has gained on and off the field to lead this year’s WVU men’s soccer team to the pinnacle of collegiate soccer - the national championship.