Second wave of Hellstrom talent looks to make splash with the Flash
by Randy Pascal
Perhaps Karly Hellstrom is more like her sibling than she would like to let on.
Putting to rest rumours that she was headed to the NCAA South Florida Bulls in Tampa Bay, the young local soccer talent officially committed last
week the Kent State Golden Flashes, following in the footsteps of older sister Jenna.
And despite some obvious similarities between the two young ladies, little sister insists that the final decision came down to far more than simply
picking right up where Jenna will leave off, graduating this spring after rewriting the school's soccer record books.
"It's much closer to home, easier for my parents to get there," noted the younger Hellstrom. "I wanted to have that experience where my parents could
always come and watch, because they've always been there for me since day one."
One might think that 21 year-old who helped lead Kent State to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament would have surely used a little
friendly persuasion to bring Karly to Ohio. The soon-to-be graduate of Lasalle Secondary suggested otherwise, insisting that this wasn't the case at all.
"At the end, she told me, it was my decision to make," said Karly. "You've seen my years at Kent, you've seen my experience, so you always have that to
relate to." Comparisons between the two have always been evident, though each presented different and contrasting natural athleticism.
Where Jenna added a great deal of success in the track & field sprint distances to her soccer prowess in high school, Karly was always far more
well-known as having an affinity to greater distances, marrying OFSAA cross-country appearances with her talent on the pitch.
And while Jenna leaves the Golden Flashes as the all-time program leader in goals (37), assists (33) and points (107), Karly has forged a reputation in
local soccer circles as a fierce defender.
"I'm a defender and she's a forward, but she did start out as a defender," Karly stated. "They've already told me that I probably won't be playing back
there. Maybe I will be the same player (as Jenna) and maybe I will be out there scoring goals, just like she did."
If there are facets of her older sister's game that Karly has no issue with trying to duplicate, undergoing knee surgery while still in high school is
one adventure she would have been quite happy not to share. Still, signing her Letter of Intent exactly five months, to the day, of her operation, Hellstrom is
pleased with the progress she has shown.
"I'll hopefully be cleared to practice on March 1st and receive clearance to play on May 1st," she said. "That gives me two to three months before
training camp to prepare. I'm in the gym now for two or three hours a day, doing my exercises, working out, trying to get back to where I was. I'm feeling
stronger than I did before."
If all goes well, Karly will look to mirror Jenna right out of the gate, in one respect, earning starting assignments as a freshman. "I'm hoping to come
in and start, depending on my health, obviously," she said.
"As long as I'm ready and come in working hard and in shape, it sounds like I have a chance to start. They've been really positive with me." The official
signing took place at Lasalle, with parents Peter and Donna Hellstrom in attendance, and soccer mentors Brian Ashton and Lasalle coach Matt
Cootes on hand.
According to Hellstrom, they were only part of the team of people who made this day possible. "(Laurentian coach) Rob Gallo has been there for me
since day one," she said. "And my trainers, Cal (McGibbon) and (Dave) Capstick, Team Ontario coach Brian Rosenthal, and my summer
coaches, Dayna Corelli and Giuseppe Politi."
"And my sister, always pushing me." Not to mention blazing the trail that Karly Hellstrom would be only to happy to follow.