U names second soccer coach

Interim Minnesota soccer coach Barbara Wickstrand strolled into the Sports Pavilion media room with a smile on her face and about half her future team waiting for her.
As expected, women’s athletics director Chris Voelz removed the interim from Wickstrand’s title on Thursday afternoon, making the 33-year-old the new head coach of the Gophers.
Wickstrand signed a three-year deal with undisclosed terms.
Voelz said a number of factors affected her decision process, including Wickstrand’s passion for the game and a positive relationship with student-athletes. Voelz said she received over 90 applications, but they all led her to, “the loyal, the eager, the prepared,” Wickstrand.
“We cast the net far and wide, throughout the nation,” Voelz said. “But all along the head coach was right under our nose.”
It didn’t take much convincing by Voelz to get Wickstrand to take the job.
“When I compare programs around the nation, it’s hard to beat the support we receive here at the University,” Wickstrand said.
Wickstrand was named interim coach last month when head coach Sue Montagne took over as head coach at Georgia.
But all along it was expected that Wickstrand would be given the job; it was just a matter of time.
When Montagne left, Voelz said she was happy with the direction of Minnesota’s soccer team, and a replacement from within the program seemed likely.
The Gophers made the NCAA tournament five times under Montagne and won two Big Ten championships. Voelz wanted someone she believed would continue winning.
Wickstrand was that person.
A graduate from North Carolina State, she had been an assistant for the Gophers for six seasons.
Wickstrand becomes the second head coach in Minnesota history. Montagne was the Gophers’ coach since the team attained varsity status in 1993.
And although the Gophers have had success over past years, Wickstrand still sees room for improvement for Minnesota’s program.
She cited team speed as one area she would like to see improve.
“I have six years of ideas in my head and I’m really excited to finally be able to put them together to see if they can work,” she said.
The current Gophers are certainly pleased with the appointment; they all gave Wickstrand a hug after the press conference.
“She’s always had really good rapport with us,” sophomore Alison Rackley said. “I’m excited for next year.”

John R. Carter welcomes comments at [email protected]