Former MSU soccer standout Damon Rensing became the fifth head coach in Spartan history on January 1, 2009 after taking over for the legendary Joe Baum, who guided MSU for 32 seasons.
In 2018, Rensing begins his 10th season as head coach, after serving as an assistant coach for 10 seasons at his alma mater. In nine years, Rensing has compiled an impressive 103-61-26 record (.594).
Rensing was named MSU's head coach designate on Aug. 14, 2008 after Baum decided to make 2008 his final season as head coach. Rensing has spent nearly half his life in the Green and White with four years as varsity letterwinner, one season as an assistant with the women's program and 10 seasons in his previous position. In his first eight years as head coach, the Spartans have made six NCAA tournament campaigns, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2013 and 2014.
In 2016, the Spartans returned to the NCAA Tournament, hosting the first round in East Lansing. MSU ended the season with a 13-5-2 record, including going undefeated at DeMartin Stadium with a 9-0-2 record. The nine wins were the most-ever at home. Freshman Giuseppe Barone captured Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, while sophomore Ryan Sierakowski earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. Juniors Jimmy Fiscus and Ken Krolicki joined redshirt-sophomore Jimmy Hague as second-team All-B1G honorees. Sierakowski, Hague, Fiscus and Krolicki all earned All-Region honors as well.
The Spartans ended the 2014 season with a 12-5-6 record overall and were 4-2-2 in Big Ten action. The 2013 season also saw Rensing named the NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year, while Kevin Cope earned All-America honors and was eventually selected as the 25th pick in the MLS Super Draft. Fatai Alashe was selected as the fourth pick overall by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. His selection in the first round of the draft marks the highest-ever in school history, surpassing first-round pick Doug DeMartin in 2009.
In 2012, he guided MSU to its third Big Ten Tournament title in school history as the Spartans topped Michigan in overtime, 2-1.
Under Rensing's leadership, the Spartans have received 25 All-Big Ten and 19 NSCAA All-Region selections, in addition to nine players that were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. The Spartans' performance in the classroom during Rensing's tenure has been equally impressive. Over the last nine years, MSU has received 94 Academic All-Big Ten selections and 38 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar selections.
During his 10 years as an assistant at Michigan State, Rensing helped lead the Spartans to the 2004 and 2008 Big Ten Tournament championships as well as the 2008 conference regular-season crown. Rensing was instrumental in helping the program to its first four trips to the NCAA Tournament (2001, 2004, 2007 and 2008) since 1969. During his time as an assistant, Rensing tutored 15 different First Team All-Big Ten performers and nine different NSCAA-All Region honorees. Rensing also worked with three NSCAA All-America selections - Ryan McMahen (2005), Doug DeMartin (2008) and Jay Chapman (2014). Both McMahen (80 points, 26 goals) and DeMartin (85 points, 38 goals) rank in the MSU all-time top 10 in both points and goals. Seven players Rensing has recruited and coached, including John Minagawa-Webster (2005), McMahen (2006), Kevin Reiman (2008), Rauwshan McKenzie (2008), DeMartin (2009), Cope (2013) and Alashe (2015) have been drafted by MLS teams.
Rensing began his coaching career in 1997 when he assisted with the MSU women's soccer team before moving to UNLV when former MSU women's assistant Staci Hendershott was appointed head coach of that program. While at UNLV, he helped that club to an overall record of 8-10-1 along with a No. 3 national ranking for first-year programs. In addition, he coached the Las Vegas Premier Soccer U-17 Team to a state championship. After one year at UNLV, Rensing returned to East Lansing in 1999 where he became an assistant coach on Baum's staff.
In 2004, Rensing was promoted to associate head coach following the 2004 season. Rensing was a four-time letterwinner and three-year starter for MSU (1993-96). His senior year saw him capture All-Big Ten first-team recognition after picking up 14 points on five goals and four assists. He was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree as a sophomore and junior. During his four years, he played in 74 matches, 55 as a starter, totaling seven goals and 13 assists for 27 points.
Rensing earned his bachelor's degree from MSU in communication in 1997. He married the former Daune Koester in May 2004. The couple has two children, Anna and Drew.
Joe Ahearn is in his first season as an assistant coach at Michigan State.
"We are really excited to bring Joe, Katie, and their kids into the MSU soccer family. When looking for a top assistant, Joe really checked all the boxes. He is very experienced having been an assistant at several strong programs and also serving as a successful Division II head coach. Joe brings a strong soccer background, a great work ethic and a positive energy that our student-athletes will feed off of in their quest both academically and athletically. On top of everything, Joe is just a very good person," MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
A graduate of DePaul in 2000, Ahearn was promoted to Associate Head Coach for Northwestern in 2016 and in his six seasons played a key role in recruiting and player development. Ahearn was a key recruiter for Northwestern's No. 25-ranked recruiting class in 2018 (by Top Drawer Soccer) and coached multiple Wildcats to Big Ten Conference postseason honors, including five players to All-Big Ten selections and seven players to All-Freshman Team selections.
"I will always be grateful to the Northwestern community specifically Dr. Phillips and Coach Lenahan for my personal growth, professional growth and all the great memories," Ahearn said. "Coach Rensing has been a mentor of mine for a long time. I have always been impressed with his teams on and off the field, his passion for the game and his commitment to his student athletes. I want to thank Bill Beekman, Stephen Anthony and Coach Rensing for providing me this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the best college soccer programs in the country! I can't wait to get started!"
Prior to his arrival in Evanston, Ahearn served for six years as the head men's soccer coach at NCAA Division II Missouri S&T and worked for five years on the coaching staffs at Colgate and DePaul.
While at Missouri S&T, Ahearn led the Miners to the NCAA Division II Tournament. In 2010, the Miners were Great Lakes Valley Conference regular season co-champions and he was honored as a finalist for the Division II National Coach of the Year award, while also earning the distinction of GLVC Coach of the Year.
Ahearn began his coaching career at his alma mater, DePaul, spending three seasons with the Blue Demons. Aside from his coaching duties, he served as the primary recruiting coordinator and liaison between the student-athletes and athletic academic counseling. The Blue Demons received the Conference USA Academic Excellence Award in 2003 and six players were named to the Conference USA Commissioners Honor Roll during his tenure.
During his playing career at DePaul (1996-99), Ahearn appeared in 67 games over his four-year career and started every game his last three seasons. He was selected to the Conference USA all-league team as a third-team selection following the 1999 season and was chosen as his team's most valuable player.
"I have had a lot of respect for what Tim (Lenahan) has done and is doing at Northwestern. Over the years, I have learned a lot from him through competition, observation and conversation. Having Joe come to MSU with experience not just in the Big Ten but at Northwestern will be invaluable," Rensing added.
T.K. Kolba enters his first season as an assistant coach at Michigan State.
"We are really excited to welcome T.J. Kolba to the MSU Soccer Family! I started to get to know T.J. since we play Akron every year and also at this past season's College Cup. I found T.J. to be very knowledgeable of the game, organized, and an extremely hard worker. Most importantly, T.J. possesses a temperament and humbleness to his success that I think will fit in very well here at MSU," MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
Kobla comes to East Lansing after four years at Akron. During Kolba's time at Akron, the Zips posted the an overall record of 64-20-10 (.787), including a 12-4-3 (.711) mark in Mid-American Conference play, while securing four conference tournament titles, four trips to the NCAA Tournament and three appearances in the College Cup.
"I would like to thank Bill Beekman, Stephen Anthony and Coach Rensing for the opportunity to join one of the best programs in the country. Having grown to know Coach Rensing and his teams over the past few years, I am eager to get started and to help build on what he, coach Pirmann, and coach Wassermann have built together. Go Green," Kolba said.
Ten Akron players have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft during Kolba's tenure, including three players chosen in the first round, including Joao Moutinho (No. 1 - 2018), Jonathan Lewis (No. 3 - 2017) and Richie Laryea (No. 7 - 2016).
A 2004 graduate from John Carroll, Kolba graduated with a degree in marketing and logistics. He was a four-year letterwinner and three-year captain for the Blue Streaks, Kolba was recognized as the Ohio Athletic Conference Defender of the Year as a senior in 2004. A three-time All-OAC selection, Kolba finished his career with 24 points off of eight goals and eight assists a total of 73 matches. His defensive efforts helped lead the Blue Streaks to three consecutive OAC Championship matches.
"My four years at Akron have been so rewarding, and I could not be more proud of what we accomplished together, on and off the field. I would like the thank Jared Embick for providing me the opportunity to work with some of the most committed student-athletes in the country, as well as my colleagues Ger Coppinger, Drew Crawford, Brett Draper and Tim Campbell," Kolba added.
"Everywhere T.J. has worked, the programs have been very successful. He has helped student-athletes at Cleveland State, Wright State and Akron achieve goals of playing after college and succeeding in the classroom. He has handled every aspect of Division I coaching. He excels at video, defensive organization, and scouting opponents," Rensing added. "Akron has been a very successful program and Jared Embick is someone I have a lot of respect for. T.J.'s experience at Akron will serve the MSU Soccer Program well. T.J., along with assistant coaches Joe Ahearn and Micah Collins, will provide a wealth of experience, knowledge, passion, and dedication for our student athletes here at Michigan State to succeed in the classroom, on the field, and in the community."