All-time women’s soccer scorer becomes assistant coach


Junior forward Jenna Hellstrom pushes the ball up feild against CSU on Sunday Sept. 13, 2015.

Nico Crespo, Reporter

Kent State’s women’s soccer all-time leader in goals scored, Jenna Hellstrom, returned to join the coaching staff as an assistant coach.

Hellstrom is a former member of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team. She joined coach Rob Marinaro and assistant coach Rocky Sasitharan March 20, 2023.

“She brings positivity and a green light to solving problems and encouraging and they really bought into it,” he said. “It means a lot to me that she enjoyed herself so much here that she would be willing to return to her alma mater where she would be willing to start her professional soccer coaching career. It just brings a lot of joy and pride.

She played under Marinaro for her collegiate career. 

Hellstrom is the all-time leader in goals (37), assists (33), points (107), game-winning goals (17), shots attempted (232) and is second all-time in shots on goal (115). 

In her senior year during the 2016 season, she led the Mid-American Conference in points (38), assists (10) and was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year.

Senior forward Jenna Hellstrom battles for possession of the ball in the MAC Championship game against Northern Illinois University on Nov. 6, 2016.

Her career didn’t end there either, as she participated in the World Cup as a member of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team in 2019.

Hellstrom said that she didn’t think this opportunity would come up so quickly after she decided to retire professionally and that she was super excited for the opportunity and called it her “home away from home.”

“I’m very happy to be back,” she said. “Honestly, not surprised that I’m back but I just didn’t think this opportunity would come so early after me deciding to retire but I absolutely love it. It’s definitely different from playing, you have a totally different role but I really enjoy seeing myself coaching for a long time.”

After playing for the national team and playing in the World Cup, Hellstrom said that she has been through a lot and that’s what is going to make her be a good coach.

Hellstrom said in an interview that the opportunity [of joining Kent State’s coaching staff] came at the right time but also said that it was a tough time deciding to hang up the cleats.

“I think what I bring is experience, being a Kent State athlete and then professionally, I’ve been in every situation you can think of,” Hellstrom said. “I’ve gone through so much adversity in my career to them bringing the stuff that I’ve grown from and helping our players go through what they’re currently going through as a student athlete.”

Hellstrom added that it means everything to her to coach here at her alma mater and take a chance in a completely different role. Especially since she was once coached by Marinaro and now stands next to him on the sidelines.

Junior Forward Jenna Hellstrom battles a player from the University of Louisville at Zoeller Field on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The Flashes ended the game in a tie 2-2.

“It’s one thing to go back to your old school, but Coach Rob is still here and he coached me and I like the way he ran this program as a player so I wanted to be a part of that pack,” she said. “It’s such a good working environment and everything so I don’t want to go home because I’m enjoying myself so much. I wanted to give back to the program that did so much for me.”

 Marinaro said that Hellstrom was a kind, generous and caring person that he wanted to be a part of his staff because he thought it was extremely important. He also said that he chose Hellstrom over anyone with coaching experience because of what she brought to the table with experience.

“There are a lot of people that have coaching experience, but not a lot of people that have that same experience as Jenna has,” he said. “I mean when you look at her career, she was amazing here at Kent State and then did big things at the national level where she competed in the World Cup, so right away it brings credibility to her as a player and the mentorship she brings to our student athletes.”

Marinaro said that the general reaction to Hellstrom from the student athletes has been excited, and that they’ve enjoyed working with her.

Nico Crespo is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]