Kent State soccer sets standard for academic success


Jaclyn Dutton, sophomre forward, attacked the goal, and brought the score to 3-1 in favor of Kent. Photo by Sam Verbulecz.

Matt Lofgren

You might be surprised to know that the Kent State soccer team (8-4, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) has been nationally ranked in the top 10 in an impressive category for the past two years.

For two straight years, the women’s soccer team has proved itself off the field by earning a top-10 spot on the national grade point average list. Propelled by great team attitude and helping one another accomplish their goals, the Flashes earned a 3.519 cumulative GPA last year alone.

It comes to the team with no surprise that the team has such a high GPA with outstanding players like junior Hannah Newhouse and sophomore Christine Pellegrino. Both players juggle their time between the soccer field and Kent State’s Honors College.

Newhouse has been a solid midfielder for the Flashes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, Newhouse scored her first goal in a conference game against Central Michigan. But when Newhouse is away from the soccer field, she is working on her degree in pre-med psychology.

“You kind of have to merge things in your life,” Newhouse said. “You eat meals while you have your book open or you are in the training room before practice or a game and you have your book open.”

For most students, it’s hard to find time in the day to go to class, study for exams and quizzes or get some homework done. For all that is on everyone’s plate it can be a challenge, and the Flashes have the added pressure of constantly practicing or traveling for road games.

“It takes a lot of time management. I use my planner a lot and just every free moment that I have is either school or soccer,” Pellegrino said. “If we are on a bus it’s school work and no matter where we go we have school on our minds.”

Pellegrino knows firsthand just how hard it to play in a big game with a big exam coming up and on her mind.

“There are definitely times where I come to practice thinking about ‘Oh I have three tests I need to be studying for,’ and I shouldn’t be here,’” Pellegrino said. “But I made a commitment to both and my goal is to do both to the best of my abilities.”

For the team, Pellegrino is a red-shirt sophomore majoring in integrated mathematics. Her time on the field is spent as one of Kent’s back-up goals where she has seen limited action. Overall, Pellegrino credits the team’s success in the classroom to their camaraderie.

“We work really hard to help each other out,” Pellegrino said. “Because I am good at math I help my teammates out but some of them are better at English so they help me out, so … we work both ways to help everybody to do well.”

Both Newhouse and Pellegrino were a part of the team last season that will find out this November if the squad made it a third straight year on the list.

Perhaps the biggest fan of the Flashes’ success in school is Kent State coach Rob Marinaro, who is proud of how all of his players get work done in the classroom and on the field.

“They impress us every semester on what comes out with their academics,” Marinaro said. “It’s truly impressive and we just really try and guide them, but truly they set the standards for themselves.”

Every player in the locker room speaks highly of one another, making this team a very close group which Marinaro credits to all their success on and off the field.

“We always talk about our seniors and our team leaders to set standards and the academic standard is definitely there,” Marinaro said. “It’s a part of the team goal and they take their academics seriously.” 

Beyond the team’s academic successes, the Flashes are preparing for a pair of home games this weekend against Western Michigan Friday at 4 p.m. followed by Northern Illinois Sunday at 1 p.m. With the heart of the MAC schedule upon them, the Flashes know they need to improve every week to come out victorious.

“Continued progress is a process we are looking for,” Marinaro said. “We need to keep improving every single week and we’ve been doing that, we are really pushing ourselves to play well but come out with better results.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] and @gonzoEdu.