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Kellyn Gerenstein: From Ohio State club football to Boston College staff

How the team’s quarterback made his way to a career in sports

When he arrived at The Ohio State University in 2018, Kellyn Gerenstein had two goals: study engineering and play for the varsity football team as a walk-on. Football was a cornerstone of his life. When he couldn’t get an immediate walk-on tryout, he was crushed.

“I couldn’t live without it,” he said. “I called my mom and was like, ‘I don’t have the structure [of a team]. I have to come home. I can’t do this.’”

Gerenstein’s mom helped him regain his focus. He stayed in shape and would practice throwing on the Lincoln Tower Field, all the while hoping to find a way back to his favorite sport. It was there that he met the kicker for the university’s club football team.

“He threw me an invite to the club,” Gerenstein said. “That was a Thursday. Monday, I went to my first practice.”

While Gerenstein waited for a varsity tryout date, football became his focus. Eventually his grades began to slip. Over the next two years, he would come to understand that while engineering was one of the things that brought him to Ohio State, it was sports that would keep him there. The club helped him build a routine and find his balance.

“I’ve come to realize that I can’t live without some sort of structure,” he said. “In high school, I was in school and then I went to practice, so most of your day is structured. Then you get to college and it’s not even close to that. The club practices were shorter than high school but for me, it was some semblance of normalcy. It saved me.”

He graduated in May of this year with a bachelor’s degree in sport industry and is now an assistant director of recruiting for Boston College’s football team. Gerenstein says his time with the club football team allowed him to play without feeling the pressure that varsity athletes often face.

“I have a friend who just graduated – he was a five-year player and had some injuries. He doesn’t want to play anymore,” he said. “Those guys get burnt out playing at that level. … I’ve never had a day where I woke up and thought, ‘Here we go with this again.’ It was just excitement: ‘We got football tonight!’”

The club football team was founded in 2009 and is a member of the National Club Football Association. It has won two national championships, in 2019 and 2021. Gerenstein was the team’s quarterback for both.

Kellyn Gerenstein at Ohio State's 2023 NFL Pro DayIn addition to playing on the club team, Gerenstein also served as a recruiting intern for the varsity program. He worked with Mark Pantoni, whom he calls “the godfather of college football personnel.” Earlier this year, Gerenstein participated in the National Football League’s Pro Day at Ohio State, an opportunity that he says would not have happened without the connections he made through both programs.

“[The internship] ended up working out well,” he said. “I am where I am now. Club football was the springboard to why I’m here in Boston.”

In addition to allowing him to enjoy the game, club football also gave Gerenstein a leg up professionally since the club recruits its players.

“You have to make yourself desirable [to recruits],” he said. “You have to find the right audience.”

Gerenstein thinks more schools would benefit from their own club teams. There are students out there who want to continue to play football but can’t do so at the varsity level, he said. A club team lets them continue to have the structure and rigor many student-athletes crave. 

“I do everything I can to spread the word about club football,” he said. And while he is a Boston College Eagle now, Ohio State’s club team set a high bar.

“It shocks me how dedicated the team and the staff are, versus the rest of the league,” he said. “How we prepare for every game, we’re just so fine-tuned as a program. As far as X’s and O’s, personnel, depth, schematics, travel, we just don’t miss on any of it.”

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