Damon Rensing is Michigan State University’s men’s soccer coach. He joins Michigan State University president Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. M.D. and Spartans athletic director Bill Beekman for a conversation on the state and future of his program and the game of soccer.
He talks about the history of the program and the Joe Baum coaching tree. And he says there’s a strong sense of alumni connectivity that permeates the program.
“I played for Joe and then was his assistant for 10 years and then took over as head coach. Over the last, I think 42 years, 43 years, we've only had two head coaches for men’s soccer at MSU. Soccer in this country, especially in the state of Michigan, has really grown and we've been able to pull in a lot of talented players from the state of Michigan and the Midwest. That combination has really been successful.”
Rensing tells Stanley and Beekman about the importance of MSU’s facilities to the program and about how the growth of professional soccer is affecting it, too. He says the Big Ten does play a more defensive-oriented style than teams from other parts of the country, and he explains why the U.S. men haven’t yet become more competitive in international competition like the U.S. women have.
“I think it's all relative,” he says. “I think we've certainly really grown a lot. Unfortunately we started a lot further behind the Italys, the Brazils, the Germanys, the Spains. And they're also growing. And I think the other thing that makes it a little bit difficult is in our domestic league, they play to win and their goal is to win championships. If they can bring in a Brazilian player that takes maybe the opportunity of a young American player, that can come into play too.”