Athletics Alumni Spotlight

Kellen Groover, Men's Soccer


Former MCCC men’s soccer player Kellen Groover was known for his saves in the net.  Groover is still making saves, this time while at sea as a member of the Coast Guard.

Groover was the goalie of the Vikings soccer team for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  In his second season at MCCC, Groover earned NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American Honors.  Groover earned All-Region 19 and All-GSAC (Garden State Athletic Conference) honors in 2014 and 2015. The Vikings were Region 19 Champions both seasons.

In 2015, Groover led the nation in save percentage at .891%.  In 20 games, Groover had 114 saves, 6 shutouts and allowed just 14 goals.  Mercer finished the 2015 season ranked eighth in the nation following an 18-0-3 season.  Groover became the first MCCC goalkeeper to earn All-American honors since 1992.

Following his two years at MCCC, Groover transferred to Rutgers-Camden, then Stockton University.  In his senior season at Stockton, Groover earned All-NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) honors.  Groover was tied for second in the NJAC in minutes played and shutouts and third in goals allowed average.  Groover also earned NJAC All-Academic honors while at Stockton.

Groover discussed why he chose to come to MCCC, how he became interested in the Coast Guard and what is entailed in his service.

When looking at colleges, Groover reached out to a few schools including MCCC and was contacted by Mercer Head Coach Widmarc Dalce, who set up a visit for Groover.  Once Groover set foot on campus, he knew MCCC was going to be the right fit for him.  “After I did a campus tour, I knew MCCC would be a place I wanted to stay for two years. Mercer had everything I wanted and more: sports, academics, clubs, the atmosphere. The school checked all my boxes off of where I wanted to be a collegiate athlete.”

Groover is grateful for the time at MCCC and his experience both in the classroom and on the soccer field.  “Mercer has helped me in various ways to get me to where I am. The academic/athletic challenges are the biggest factors. Consistently being challenged in the classroom and on the field was what made me who I am. The teachers always wanted the best of me which created pressure similar to the pressure on the field. On the field, the coaches and my teammates always created pressure to be the best I could be. Mercer overall created an atmosphere to make you the best you can be.”

Groover didn’t decide until his senior year at Stockton that his next step was going to be joining the Coast Guard. “My dad got me interested in the Coast Guard. I remember sitting at the senior banquet at Stockton University and my dad mentioned the Navy since I wanted to be a community police officer. After a few weeks, he mentioned the Coast Guard. Since the Coast Guard is so small, I did not know much about it. All I knew it was a military branch. My dad talked a little bit more about it then I did my research and realized how much it had to offer me. The Coast Guard sparked all my interests and in a few months I spoke to a recruiter.”

Because of his soccer experience, Groover felt prepared for the conditioning involved with the Coast Guard.  “My soccer training at Mercer and Stockton helped significantly as physical fitness is huge in Coast Guard Boot Camp.”

Groover discussed what he likes most about the Coast Guard as well as the challenges that come with the job. “There are many things I like about the Coast Guard whether its location, mission, or the opportunity. The biggest thing overall about the Coast Guards that I like is saving lives, that is the Coast Guard’s biggest job, SAR (Search and Rescue). Impacting someone’s life by saving them when they believe all hope is lost is a great feeling.”

There are also challenges that come with being in the Coast Guard, including being away from family, being in a new area and the qualifications. “Qualifications are very important in the Coast Guard making it feel like I am back in college. For me to be proficient and good, I consistently have to study and train to perform my job or even save lives. Many people do not know much about the Coast Guard, but qualifications are a huge part to ensure we are doing the best we can all times. Another challenge is being away from family and in a new area. I have moved four times within four years and it has been a struggle to keep friends and to have things to do outside of work. Constantly moving and having little to no friends make it hard to enjoy the hobbies I have. Being away from family is tough since I am so used to coming home for a nice home cooked meal and sitting around a table to talk to my family. Being alone is one of the biggest challenges the Coast Guard has brought but being at Stations/Units that are close make it feel more like home.”

Some of the locations that Groover has been stationed with the Coast Guard include Seward, Alaska, Yorktown, Virginia, Hobucken, North Carolina and Marquette, Michigan.

Groover believes he will continue in the Coast Guard if he can, but knows things can change.  “For what the Coast Guard does and its missions, it is definitely worth staying in. I never know what is going to happen, whether it is medically, mentally, or both. I always try to have multiple back up plans as my dad tells me.  I would like to make the Coast Guard a career since it has everything I look for in a job.”

When looking back at his time playing soccer as well as his All-American Award, Groover is grateful for his team.  He credits the people he played and trained with for making his experience so memorable.  “Being named an All-American was very exciting knowing that all the training and hard work I put into being a goalkeeper paid off to gain that achievement. Even though I put hard work off the field, I believe it is the people that I played with that helped me achieve All-American. It was an amazing experience knowing that I achieved that with such a great team. Collectively it was an accomplishment that I will never forget.”

Groover couldn’t choose one specific memory from his time playing soccer at MCCC that was his favorite.  “There are countless memories playing soccer at Mercer. I think what made it was the players that I played alongside with. The memories I made with the players, the friendships that will last a lifetime is my favorite part. The experience at MCCC: whether it was classes, sports, to making friends. It was an amazing school to be at with the opportunities that I had to help me get to where I am today. I really enjoyed both MCCC and Stockton because of what they offered for me and others.”

Groover got his start on in the classroom and soccer field at Mercer and is taking the many things he learned on and off the field with him to the seas all across the country. 

Thank you for your service Kellen.

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Kellen Groover with one of his Coast Guard certifications


Groover in rescue gear for the Coast Guard





Groover earned All NJAC honors at Stockton after his two years at MCCC



Groover's 2015 MCCC headshot