Q&A With Women's Soccer Head Coach Jenna Shelton
by Hayley McQuade
What’s your soccer history?
I just started playing youth soccer at a young age around 3 or 4 years old. Early on I was moving up, youth teams would want me to play with their older teams. I started showcasing with Vardar, and that’s actually how I got scouted from a few schools. That’s how I found Calvin College. Playing there was a good experience with a lot of hard work. Early on, I had a love for the game, and I saw the field differently than everyone else. Coaches would always say that I have such a different soccer mind than most girls. I had this weird understanding of the game at such a young age.
What are some reasons you choose to come and coach at Rochester?
I knew I could make an impact. The views of the program had aligned with mine. I knew I could achieve the goals that were set within the program. My belief system is that I’ve had crappy coaches, ones that are there just to collect the paycheck, and coaches who are there to just win games. Those coaches I don’t care for. It’s the coaches that made sure I was growing as an individual and that relationship with a player. There are so many things within our program and within the school that is going to bring growth to the individual. With coaching, that’s the kind of impact that we have to make; it’s not winning records, not getting crazy on your players. It's making sure that someone has their back, but also someone that is going to push them to their potential.
How would you describe your time at Rochester University so far?
I started out as goalie coach, and players would come to me with issues and how to improve their game. I had to coach the Lawerence Tech game, and it showed that our team has heart. I prepared myself for head coach and all the responsibilities: there is way more involved, field rentals, recruiting, a way to be a voice on campus for women’s soccer. We are here to stay. We can help the community and get our voice out on campus.
COVID brought us a unique season last year with the season divided into fall and spring. You were assistant coach in the fall and then head coach in the spring. What are you wanting to change?
The things I immediately wanted to change are respect can’t be broken or lowered. We will have intensity and professionalism with a 100% work environment, an attitude of positivity. We will push through tough times. The goal for a lot of these players is to continue playing the sport they love and also set themselves up for success to start their lives. I want to produce something that is meaningful, and positive, where players can look back and say "I enjoyed my time at RU." I keep telling players that this is your education, this is your future; so whatever you do, if it’s being at practice on time, that will translate to help you be at work on time. To me it’s the bigger picture.
Describe the coaching staff and how you want to overall contribution to the team.
Assistant Coach Aaron Roy: "He understands the game and has great knowledge. He is a great coach."
Assistant Coach Skipper Mukhtar: "He has connections, player pool networking, dedication and knowledge."
Assistant Coach Brendan Wobel: "He is smart, articulate and always gives 110%."
We will bring a level of intensity, and this team will be a force to be reckoned with. We are building for a better tomorrow. As coaches, we are thinking about what we need to implement to hang with our conference, which is hard work, professionalism and a high standard. We have four coaches that are invested in this team.
For more details about RU women's soccer, click here.