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Coaching Staff

Kelly Grgas-Wheeler
Assistant Coach

A name certainly familiar to those in the Duluth area soccer circles, Kelly Grgas-Wheeler returns for her 16th season with the Bulldogs in 2019.
Since her arrival, Grgas-Wheeler has helped guide student-athletes to success on-and-off the pitch. UMD has had five All-American citations, as well as 38 All-Central region picks. Her mentoring help craft one of the program’s best offensive players in Maureen Stormont. Stormont left with multiple records etched in her name including most goals and points in a single season (2013). Stormont was named the 2014 NSIC Player of the Year as she left the program with the most goals and points. UMD has also seen a pair of conference Players of the Year honorees in Reegan Lloyd and Hannah Bengston during her time. 
In addition, Grgas-Wheeler has shaped Bulldogs into outstanding role models with a passion for community service. Four players (Sisley Ng, Kate McMahon, Kelli Klun and Kelly Duchene) have been awarded the Shjon Podein Community Service Award for best leadership qualities and volunteer contributions to the surrounding communities and 10 athletes have been bestowed with the Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Award (at least a 3.75 cumulative GPA), the most Duluth recent native Emily Fleissner in 2018 .
The longest-serving UMD assistant in program history, Grgas-Wheeler joined the Bulldog staff in 2004 with four years of previous high-level collegiate coaching experience tucked under her belt. That included a two-season assistant stint at NCAA Division-I University of Texas El Paso. While in El Paso, she helped mold the Miners into one of the most potent offensive clubs in the nation (UTEP led the nation in goals scored in 2002). In addition to duties behind the bench, her responsibilities with the Miners also consisted of scheduling, game management and recruiting. Before accepting the UTEP post, Grgas-Wheeler was an assistant coach at Cochise College (Ariz.) for two years.
As a forward at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan., Grgas-Wheeler was a three-time All-Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) First Team selection (1998, 1997, 1996). A two-year captain, she was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player three times while rewriting the school’s record books. She left Ottawa owning all-time marks for goals, assists, and points and still owns the number three mark for assists in a season (10 in 1997) and the eight spot for points in a single season (32 in 1997). Grgas-Wheeler was also a four-year letterwinner for the Braves on the basketball court and earned her bachelor of English degree from OU in 1999.
Grgas-Wheeler received her NSCAA National Diploma in June of 2007. Since 2000, she has served as a Gitchi Gummi Club soccer coach, including as a technical coach for the U-9, U-10, U-12 and U-13 age groups the past four springs. She has directed multiple club teams to the MYSA state tournament, including in 2018, 2013 and 2010, as well as a U-13 runner-up in 2018, and a U-13 state title in 2003. 
Grgas-Wheeler is a graduate of Duluth East High School and also serves as the women’s hockey sports information director at UMD, a role she has held since 2007. She lives in Duluth with her four-year old twin sons Lachlan and Luka.

Sonja Barr
Goalkeeper Coach

Joining the Bulldogs for a fourth season, Sonja Barr will continue as the intern goalkeeper coach in 2019.
A native of Duluth, Minn., Barr has ties associated to UMD as her father, Calvin, played football and her mother, Anita, played tennis. She is also familiar with Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play, as she competed four seasons at Bemidji State University as a goalkeeper. Barr earned numerous accomplishments over her stellar career - including holding the Beavers’ record for lowest goals against average in a season (0.81). A NSIC all-conference selection in 2013, Barr holds down the sixth most shutouts (16) in conference history.
Barr graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science with an emphasis in sports management and coaching specialist. Barr earned a level three goalkeeper coaching license.