On his first day as president and chief executive officer of the Wave, Peter Wilt laid out a simple goal for the oldest professional soccer team in the United States.
"We won't let the community take the Milwaukee Wave for granted any more," Wilt said.
"We want to be relevant again."
A few months ago, the Wave became relevant while teetering on the brink of folding. A last-ditch "Save the Wave" campaign brought new owner Jim Lindenberg to the operation, and it was Lindenberg who hired Wilt to work alongside chief operating officer Mike Lafferty and longtime coach Keith Tozer.
"Part of what attracted me to this position is that we have new ownership, a strong foundation and room to grow," Wilt said.
Wilt knows a little about that. He has spent two decades in professional soccer -- an odyssey that began as marketing and public relations director of the Wave in the late 1980s and included stints in Minnesota, Los Angeles and Chicago, where he was founding GM of the Chicago Fire and, more recently, founding president of the Red Stars -- a team in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS).
"Those who know me know that I can be sentimental," said Wilt, a Marquette grad who quoted Al McGuire in his opening remarks and has lived in Whitefish Bay throughout his soccer career. "It's good to be back. I"m also looking forward to the shorter commute."
Wilt will continue to serve as president of the Red Stars and on the WPS Board of Governors, but will hand over day-to-day operations to general manager Marcia McDermott.
"The timing and the opportunity were right," Wilt said. "From the beginning, three years ago, I planned to spend the time necessary to assemble the ownership group, create the brand and get the Red Stars through the first season."
Wilt's return to the Wave begins with a game against La Raza de Monterrey on Nov. 20 in Mexico. The home opener is Dec. 6.
"We've got a lot to do, but this is a great opportunity," Wilt said.
Wilt, who idolized the late White Sox owner Bill Veeck, was known for creative promotions during his previous stint with the Wave. Will that trend continue?
"We're going to have fun," he said, smiling. "I'm looking forward to it."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.