Since watching NASL games in the 70's, Mike Buytas has been an avid supporter of the beautiful game. Having lived in England and Germany in the 90's, he began supporting the Battery in 1996, three years after the club was founded. He is the current president of the Regiment and AO Charleston.
Q- What is it like to be a supporter of the Charleston Battery?
Buytas- Supporting the Charleston Battery is easy. They are a solid club that get "it". They have been an innovator in the US game, building the first privately funded SSS(Soccer Specific Stadium) in the US, developing many players over the years and hosting several International and exhibition games. We might not have the largest supporter group, but we are all appreciative of what the owners and club have done to bring such a great organization to Charleston.
Q- Over the years, who is your favorite player to suit up for Charleston?
Buytas- There have been many great players over the years, Mark Watson, Stephen Armstrong, Terry Phelan, Paul Conway and more recently Ozzie Alonso (now with the Seattle Sounders) and Colin Falvey. But one of the greatest in my opinion, is John Wilson. He is the Charleston Battery. His story and journey is fantastic (Look up his TED talk) Being from SC (South Carolina) and being a humble and nice guy, he just gives everything to the game and club.
Q- What makes The Regiment such a special group of supporters?
Buytas- The Regiment has been around since 1999 so many of us have known each other for a long time. We've watched our kids grow up and they are now old enough to be trying out for the Battery! Most of us consider the Regiment family and we are there for each other on and off the field.
Q- Can anyone join The Regiment?
Buytas- Anyone can join the Regiment. We have official memberships that come with several perks and discounts, but everyone is welcome, whether they are official members or not.
Q- Are there any rivalries between supporter groups?
Buytas- There aren't any rivalries between Battery supporters. We all tailgate together and sit in the same section. Most of us float between the groups. As to rival teams supporter groups, we have a good relationship with most supporter groups. We typically will share a beer or two before and after the match, but give each other hell for the 90 minutes in between.
Q- How would you sell somebody on attending the Carolina Challenge Cup, The Battery's yearly home tournament?
Buytas- The Carolina Challenge Cup is a great week of soccer. It is a chance to see some great soccer after a long off season and meet up with friends. Besides six great games that you watch in a great atmosphere where you are literally feet from the players, there are tons of things we have organized during the week. Tailgates, watch parties for EPL or US matches, pub crawls, supporter matches, We even took some guys from the Red Patch Boys out shooting one year.
Q- What do you know about the Houston Dynamo?
Buytas- We are pretty familiar with the Houston Dynamo, having seen them many times in our preseason Carolina Challenge Cup and the US Open Cup. Owen Coyle was the coach of Bolton when the Battery played them in an exhibition. He was very approachable and interacted with the locals for the week they were here in Charleston. One of my best memories was Dwayne De Rosario spent about 30 minutes shooting a game of pool with a friend's kid in the Three Lions Pub in the stadium when he was with the Dynamo.
Q- What realistic player would you be most excited to see be loaned out to the Battery from Houston this year?
Buytas- I am excited by the recent draft picks to be honest. I think all of them would work well in the Battery style of play (attacking from the wings) plus I personally enjoy seeing the young player develop and improve.
Q- What are your predictions for the season for the Battery, judging on their current roster?
Buytas- This time of year is always tough to predict the season, as turn over in the USL Pro is typically higher than other leagues. We look like we are going to have a few veterans returning and the Battery always fields a competitive team. I can't wait!
Q- Lastly, where can people find more information about The Regiment?
Buytas- Information about The Regiment can be found on our Facebook page.
A big thanks to Mike for taking the time and definitely check out their Facebook page and give them a like! You can also follow them on Twitter: @TheRegiment2. Very loyal and very passionate but yet, very respectful and very knowledgable. A truly great supporters group! Make sure to check out next week's edition of Carson's Charleston Charge as I will have a Q&A with Battery GM and Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser!