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 2019, Rensing begins his 11th season as head coach, after serving as an assistant coach for 10 seasons at his alma mater. In 10 years, Rensing has compiled an impressive 117-66-30 record (.620).
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 10 years as head coach, the Spartans have made seven NCAA tournament campaigns, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2013, 2014 and 2017 and an NCAA College Cup appearance in 2018.
The 2018 season was one of the most successful in Michigan State history, as the Spartans reached the College Cup for the first time in 50 years. MSU finished the season with a 14-5-4, tying the school record for wins in a season. MSU also had three players drafted in the MLS SuperDraft in seniors DeJuan Jones (First Round), Ryan Sierakowski (First Round) and Jimmy Hague (Second Round). Junior Giuseppe Barone was named first-team All-American as well as Big Ten Midfielder of the Year.
In 2017, Michigan State had another amazing NCAA Tournament run that came to an end against Big Ten rival Indiana in the Elite Eight. MSU ended the season with a 13-3-4 record and were a stellar 7-1-2 mark at DeMartin Stadium in the team’s first season with lights. Senior Jimmy Fiscus captured All-American honors, while Hauge was named Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year. Senior Ken Krolicki was taken in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Montreal Impact.
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. Fiscus and 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 32 All-Big Ten and 23 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 10 years, MSU has received 103 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.
Michigan State University Athletics Director Mark Hollis announced Monday, June 26, the hiring of Mike Rowe as the new head gymnastics coach, effective July 1, 2017. Rowe, a Spartan graduate who has spent the last three seasons as assistant coach, was named interim head coach in February.
“As in all hires, doing what is in the best interest of the student-athletes is our top priority,” Hollis said. “In this case, that meant listening to the student-athletes and doing what was in the best interest for the program. In his stint as interim coach, Mike Rowe has guided our gymnasts to success academically, athletically and socially. They’ve shown great enthusiasm for Coach Rowe. Mike is a Spartan alum with tremendous passion for his alma mater. He does everything with the best interest of Spartan student-athletes in mind.”
“I am truly honored and would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Athletics Director, Mark Hollis, Executive Associate Athletics Director, Shelley Appelbaum and Associate Athletics Director, Richard Bader, for their support of me for the head coach position for Michigan State University gymnastics,” Rowe said. “I am excited for this new journey with MSU gymnastics.”
Rowe has spent the last three seasons as assistant coach at his alma mater, joining the coaching staff in 2014. He was an integral part in returning Spartan gymnastics team to NCAA postseason competition in 2015, placing fourth at the Iowa State Regional and ending the season with a No. 26 national ranking.
During his time with the Spartans, Rowe has mentored seven All-Big Ten award honorees, including two in 2017 in seniors Nicola Deans and Kira Frederick. Rowe also coached three Big Ten Co-Champions on floor in 2017, as Deans, Frederick and fellow senior Elana Lagoski become the first Big Ten individual champions for the Spartans since 2006.
MSU tied for the most on the Big Ten Championship team with four gymnasts in Deans, Frederick, Lagoski and junior Hailee Westney, in helping the Spartans win the first session of the Big Ten Championships, finishing sixth as a team for MSU’s highest finish since 2010. Additionally, the team posted a 49.475 on floor, tying the program’s highest floor score. The 49.475 was also the single-highest event total of any team on any apparatus at the 2017 Big Ten Championships.
In addition to Michigan State qualifying for the NCAA Regionals as a team in both 2015 and 2016, the Spartans sent five individuals to regionals in 2017. Deans competed in the all-around competition, Lagoski and Frederick represented the Spartans on the floor, while Westney and junior Lindsey Lemke competed on the uneven bars. In 2016, Rowe helped coach Lisa Burt to the NCAA National Championships as an all-arounder, as MSU’s first National Championships appearance since 2010.
A native of Lowell, Michigan, Rowe earned his bachelor’s of science degree in landscape architecture from MSU in 1985 and was a member of the cheer squad. In 2013, Rowe received his master’s in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University.
Rowe returned to MSU following nine years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as assistant coach with primary focus on the uneven bars and recruiting coordinator. While there, he was a two-time Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year and coached two East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) bar champions, three EAGL Rookies of the Year and numerous NCAA Regional Qualifier on bars.
In addition to his coaching career, he has performed as a professional dancer from 1985-97 in New York City, national and international tours, and commercial and music video performances.