Riverhounds goalkeeper thriving despite limelight
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If the Riverhounds' Hunter Gilstrap could restart his soccer career, he might not choose to become a goalkeeper — even though he's good at it.
“When we make a mistake, everyone knows it,” said Gilstrap, who is in his fourth season with the team. “(You get) dirty looks and everything else from teammates and coaches.
“When everyone else makes a mistake, they typically live to see nothing bad happen. Goals happen, no matter what, but you always feel like there is something else you could have done to keep them from happening.”
Of course, what choice does he have?
“I don't like to run as much as these guys,” he said. “I don't think anything else would have worked out for me.”
Gilstrap, though, is not second-guessing his choice of careers. He's been playing soccer since age 6; he's almost 30.
Three years ago, he was named the United Soccer League's goalkeeper of the year, and he already has recorded one shutout this season for the Riverhounds (0-1-1) — a scoreless tie against Richmond.
“Why would you want to do anything else?” he said. “It's a kid's game. If you can do it, do it as long as you can.”
Gilstrap centers his life around soccer.
In the offseason, he is an assistant on the Pitt men's team, and he joins many of his teammates as instructors in the Riverhounds' youth academy.
The offseason work complements the relatively modest USL salaries, which range from $800 to $3,000 per month, not counting bonuses for victories, starts, goals and assists.
Players live in housing provided by the team and occasionally hitch rides with teammates who own cars.
For fitness sake, Gilstrap pedals his bike around town, but he also rides the Monongahela Incline that drops him off close to his Mt. Washington home or Highmark Stadium near Station Square.
“That's a tough hill to ride a bike up,” he said. “I like to get my work done here at the field, not on the way home.”
The lifestyle doesn't bother the players.
“We can't retire off of this, but we make just enough money to live a nice life,” defender Nico Katic said.
“If you play in this kind of league, you have to love the game. Otherwise, you can't survive.”
Plus, there is the minor celebrity status some players enjoy.
“When I go back home (to Croatia), they think I'm a big shot over here, but I'm not,” Katic said.
He did say, however, that he was recognized in a local grocery store.
“A couple of ladies came up to me and asked me if I played for the Riverhounds,” he said. “I was wearing a (team) jacket, but it was an awesome feeling.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- CMU water service to be interrupted for much of Sunday
- Pirates’ 5-game winning streak ends with 1-0 loss to Brewers
- Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world in Holdzkom
- Gas industry remedies ‘brain drain’ in Western Pennsylvania
- Paying tuition a challenge as costs skyrocket and aid varies
- Play to watch: Inside zone read slant/bubble
- Starkey: Can Steelers’ Mitchell find Carolina cure?
- Pitt blows 10-point lead as Iowa rallies for win
- Hill District leaders irked as Penguins submit former Civic Arena site plan to city
- Penguins’ Rutherford hopes to raise Cup again
- Penguins notebook: Crosby sits, could be out ‘couple days’