Profile: New U-M women’s soccer coach says Michigan does things the right way


Jennifer Klein was asked a question she has heard a few times since being named the head coach of the Michigan women’s soccer team in March.

Why Michigan – besides the obvious. Well, the obvious is a big reason why any coach of any sport would consider relocating to Ann Arbor.

“Michigan offers a little bit of everything starting with academic excellence and athletic tradition,” said Klein, who had to relocate to Michigan from Southern California. “They have excellent facilities and support that lends itself to overall success. When you look at all the programs here at Michigan there is a high level of success with all the sports. It’s easy to see just by the results that Michigan is doing something right.”

Klein comes to Ann Arbor after spending the last four seasons at the University of Southern California, including the last three as USC’s associate head coach. She was on the USC staff when the Trojans won a National Championship in 2016.

“I was fortunate enough to be at a program that won a National Championship and reflecting back on what it took to be successful I think Michigan has the infrastructure to create an environment that allows you to be successful,” she said. “You hope as a coach to be able to find that right combination of culture, tactics and players to make it come together and win championships.”

Winning championships is something that not only creates confidence but takes it to another level and the USC women’s soccer program earned that swagger with years of consistency.

At USC, Klein oversaw recruiting for a program that won the 2016 National Championship. And it didn’t exactly start out as expected as the Trojans lost their first two games of the year before an extraordinary run that saw them finish 19-4-2 and 8-2-1 in the challenging Pac-12 Conference.

In her four seasons, Klein helped USC to a cumulative 71-19-9 record overall and a 31-11-2 mark in conference play.

Confidence doesn’t travel. It’s not something Klein can pack in her bag – it’s something earned.

“There is a sense of expectations here,” she said. “They don’t not believe in themselves. Players at this level have a certain amount of confidence and there are some really good players here at Michigan. They feel they are on the verge of being something great and that’s where it starts.”

Taking that feeling to the next level is what Klein hopes to do.

“It’s just little things, little details and some small changes to help them get over that hump,” she says. “They certainly believe in themselves as they should. I can already see that sense of confidence.

“I am really looking forward to coaching and leading the women’s soccer program as we work to pursue excellence both on and off the field.”

Prior to her time at USC, Klein spent two seasons as an assistant at Washington State, where the program twice advanced to the NCAA Tournament and produced the 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Year in Michaela Castain.

Prior to her time in Pullman, Klein spent five seasons at UNLV including her final two as the program’s head coach as she guided the Rebels to a 19-18-4 record. At the time she was named head coach prior to the 2010 campaign, Klein was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I women’s soccer.

Klein’s collegiate coaching career began as a volunteer assistant at the University of Arizona, her alma mater, during the 2006 season.

In addition to her work with the U19 women’s national team, Klein worked for four years as a coach with U.S. Soccer’s LA Market Training Center, part of a national platform designed to improve player identification, player development and coach development for the national team.

Klein also brings experience with the youth soccer ranks, having coached club teams and regional Olympic Development Program teams during her tenures at UNLV and Arizona. She received her National “A” License in the summer of 2011.

Klein graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in May of 2006. She earned her master’s degree in athletic administration at UNLV in May of 2011.

At Arizona, Klein was a four-year letterwinner from 2002-05 and was a two-time team captain. She was part of the school’s first Pac-10 championship team in 2004 and was a starter on the 2005 squad that advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship. Klein appeared in 78 career games, starting 60 contests at midfield and outside back. She was also a member of the Arizona Heatwave in the semi-professional W-League from 2003-05.

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