Keeping an Eye on the Goal
Review the resume of Mark Litton, '89, and you might get the idea that soccer was always a top priority on his list of things to do. When Litton graduated from St. Catherine's High School in Racine, Wis., in 1982, attending UW-Parkside was an "easy choice to make," he said.
"Right after high school, I was living and working in Racine. I had visited the Parkside campus many times, and felt it was the right size school for me," he added. "The campus was beautiful. I had heard very good things about the professors and the curriculum."
However - soccer was not in his game plan.
"In 1985, I was just another lost student on campus. A kid with no direction," Litton said. "But then I was approached by Rick Kilps, the new head coach of the men's soccer team. He asked me if I would be interested in trying out for the team. I had nothing to lose, and knew that I was a good soccer player, so I accepted his invitation."
Litton made the team and was given a full athletic scholarship. He played for the Rangers from 1986 to 1988 and was named an NAIA All-American and team MVP in 1988. He graduated in the spring of 1989 with a major in communication. "Honestly, I don't think I would have finished school if coach Kilps hadn't asked me to try out for the team," Litton said.
The argument could be made that had Litton not accepted Kilps' offer, his current soccer resume would not include playing professionally with the Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team, six seasons as goalkeeper coach with the Wave; goalkeeper coach in 2008 with the U.S. National Futsal team and participant in the 2008 Futsal World Cup in Rio de Janeiro; and, as of this year, new goalkeeper coach with the UW-Parkside men's soccer team.
Plus, the soccer experience taught him the discipline and work ethic he said he was missing in the classroom. "Being part of that team helped me focus on my studies, because I knew I couldn't play if I didn't have good grades. Coach Kilps helped me carve out my future. He helped me believe in myself, and had faith in my athletic abilities," Litton said.
Outside of soccer, Litton is a senior corporate recruiter for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin. "I tie my professional success directly to my academic achievements while at Parkside," he said. "Specifically the presentation skills I learned that carry me through my career to this day."
His job responsibilities include interviewing candidates, negotiating salaries, and hiring. "I remember having public speaking classes while at Parkside, and was taught back then how to present in front of an audience with confidence and composure," he said. "The skills I learned in that class, and others like it, inadvertently became the building blocks of my professional career as a recruiter.
"To this day, I owe much of my success to the impact Rick Kilps made on my life, way back in 1985, when he gave me the direction and guidance I needed. He was, and is, a true role model. And I am honored to once again be on his coaching staff."