Gopher coaches stay in-house to staff teams

Three former Minnesota athletes plan to help their programs by coaching, not competing.

While many student-athletes end their career with a program after graduating, some Minnesota athletes are still looking for ways to help their teams. This fall, three former Gophers plan to return to their athletic programs at Minnesota, but this time, as assistant coaches. Some head coaches at Minnesota see advantages to keeping their former athletes around the program even after theyâÄôre done competing as Gophers. âÄúThe learning time for them is very short they know exactly how I want things done,âÄù womenâÄôs track head coach Matt Bingle said. âÄúThey can step right in and help right away with the way theyâÄôve been taught about how I deal with issues and those types of things.âÄù Senior Liz Roehrig finished competing for Minnesota track and field this past spring and will be volunteering her time as an assistant coach in the fall. Roehrig said she wants to give back to the Minnesota program that helped her develop so much as an athlete. She said she hopes to be able to help everyone take a step forward and get a little bit better at a time. âÄúI know how they work and how they train,âÄù Roehrig said. âÄúIâÄôll know them better and be able to coach them how they need to be coached.âÄù Roehrig served as a team captain during her last two years at Minnesota and showed early signs of being a great leader, Bingle said. âÄúSheâÄôs helped out a lot of the younger girls and helped them learn the ropes and how to deal with being a Division I athlete,âÄù Bingle said. Grant Potulny also acted as an early leader for the menâÄôs hockey program while competing for Minnesota. He was named team captain his sophomore year and held that honor until graduating in 2004, after helping the team win two national titles. âÄúOne of the reasons why we recruited him was that we thought he was a good player but an even better leader,âÄù head coach Don Lucia said. âÄúAll the players looked up to Grant. When he walks into a room he just commands respect.âÄù Potulny began volunteering his time as an assistant coach for the hockey program this spring and was named interim coach when Mike Hastings resigned after just one year. âÄúRight now IâÄôm just trying to suck in as much information as I can and give whatever sort of feedback I feel can help the program,âÄù Potulny said. Lucia said Potulny will be a strong candidate to replace Hastings, and the team plans to have someone hired full-time for the position by the end of next week. âÄúI donâÄôt know anywhere that would be as special to me as coaching at Minnesota,âÄù Potulny said. âÄúItâÄôs just the energy that these young men have and the will to get better.âÄù The passion that players have when competing for the Gophers must be paralleled by their coaches, womenâÄôs head soccer coach Mikki Wright said . âÄúThe number one qualities that weâÄôre looking for in a successful coach are that you have to be loyal, and you have to have a passion for it every single day,âÄù Wright said. The womenâÄôs soccer program recently hired former Gopher Krystle Kallman as a new assistant coach for the fall. Kallman graduated this past May after playing her senior season with Minnesota. As an athlete, Kallman helped Minnesota to their most successful season in history, but head coach Mikki Wright said she made an even bigger impact as a leader. âÄúIâÄôd like to accomplish more as a coach than I did as a player to keep the program consistently doing well and striving for the next level,âÄù Kallman said. Wright said there was no question that Kallman would make a great coach because she possesses the passion and loyalty that coaches must have. Though these athletes already possessed qualities that would make them good coaches, some transitions will be made as they rework their relationships with former teammates and coaches. Roehrig and Kallman will both be coaching their former teammates, and Kallman will also be working with her younger sister who will be playing her third season with Minnesota. Neither Roehrig or Kallman said they were nervous about changing their relationships, and Wright said that the transition should not be difficult. âÄúI think itâÄôs harder for an outsider to come in and get to know them as people, to gain their trust and to develop a relationship,âÄù Wright said. âÄúItâÄôs so much harder to do that than it is to just alter your relationship.âÄù