Sudbury

One on One with Markus Schwabe: Sudbury's Jenna Hellstrom

With a year of playing professional soccer in Sweden on the books, Sudbury's Jenna Hellstrom now has her sights set on a childhood dream— playing on Team Canada for this year's World Cup.

Soccer star playing professionally in Sweden, competing for chance to represent Canada

Jenna Helstrom was selected by Canada's Women's National Team. (www.canadasoccer.com)

With a year of playing professional soccer in Sweden on the books, Sudbury's Jenna Hellstrom now has her sights set on a childhood dream—  playing on Team Canada for this year's World Cup.

The LaSalle Secondary alumnus is currently on the national team's roster as it competes in international games, but Helstrom told the CBC's Markus Schwabe that she's not resting on her past accomplishments.

"You never know if [your spot] is permanent or not," Helstrom said. "You go to camp hoping it goes well, believing in yourself and doing everything you can when you get the opportunity to play."

Jenna Helstrom (No. 24) shown here hugging Christine Sinclair after teaming up an a goal. (www.canadasoccer.com)

Hellstrom's road to the national team didn't come without its bumps. When she was 16, she tore the ACL in her right leg, right in front of the opposing team's bench.

"You could just hear girls going 'oh', they saw my knee shift in a way that it shouldn't and...I just knew that something was wrong."

A visit to the physician's office confirmed her worst fears.

"I remember getting my MRI back with my whole family in the room, and he said 'we have some good news and some bad news. So automatically my head I'm like OK, good news is no torn ACL...but he said 'the good news is you only tore one ligament— but it is your ACL."

"I think everyone cried just knowing that [I] worked so hard up to that point," she said.

In time, Hellstrom worked her way back to playing. She regained her form enough to to draw interest from Kent State University in Ohio. Despite being just a few years removed from a potential career-ending injury, Hellstrom managed to set several Kent State records, including single-season records for assists (12), points (38), shots (76) and shots on goal (40.) She is also the school's  all-time leader in goals (37), assists (33), points (107), game-winning goals (107), shots (232), shots on goal (115), multiple goal games (6) and multiple assist games (5).

In her last year at Kent State, Hellstrom played through another injury—  this time a torn meniscus—  to help her team.

"It was a hard decision but I knew that this was our year to win...and I wanted to really leave that school with a championship ring and we ended up doing that," she said. "So it was to me all worth it."

Soon after, Hellstrom was invited to join the professional ranks, where she ended up playing for  KIF Örebro, a team in Sweden's top-tier league, Damallsvenskan.

So far, the experience of playing pro in Europe has exceeded her expectations.

"How they treat professional sports over there is something that you dream about," Hellstrom said. "Like there's little girls coming to you asking for your autograph. No matter who you are, if you're doing really well for that team—  even though I'm Canadian—  they still look at you as someone that they want to be."

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