Ginger Flohaug took over a Centennial soccer program that was mediocre at best, two decades ago. She turned it into one of the most vibrant in the metro area.
Flohaug retired from coaching after the 2020 season with a 219-67-27 record and a state championship and runner-up finish at state. She also had two state third-place teams among seven state appearances, and nine conference championships, in 18 years as head coach after two as an assistant.
“There was a time when nobody would talk about a conference title or section championship. This is the norm now,” acknowledged Flohaug about Centennial’s soccer fortunes. “Which brings on new challenges and stress, to live up to the standard that they put on themselves, and that others have for you.”
Her program has generated 16 all-state players and two Ms. Soccer winners — Jenna Roering in 2012 and Khyah Harper this year. Fifty-nine graduates went on to college teams, including 16 currently.
Harper, who transferred to Centennial as a sophomore, said Flohaug and her staff were very welcoming and friendly “but I noted right away that she wants to win. She is the type of coach to push every player to be their best so we can be successful.”
Flohaug’s 2016 team was state Class AA champion and finished 19-0-2. Despite being unbeaten, the Cougars were seeded fifth at state that year. They removed any doubts about them by defeating Lakeville North, Andover and Rosemount at state.
The Cougars under Flohaug were section champions in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. The 2019 team was state runner-up, losing to conference rival Maple Grove 2-1 in the finals, and finished 18-3.
Her final team had a good shot at a state title again but, due to the pandemic, had to settle for a 13-1 record and conference and section championships, with all state tournaments in the fall canceled.
Flohaug, a physical education teacher, became assistant activities director to Brian Jamros this year as a first step in leaving coaching — the real reason for which is to watch her twin sons, 13 years old, play soccer for the next five years.
“My children want me to be part of their soccer and see them play,” she said. The AD’s office opening seemed a “perfect solution” for her.
Asked about the style she espouses, Flohaug said, “I definitely look at my personnel, but during tryouts I favor a possession and passing style game. I love to see my defenders move the ball out of the back and up the flanks into the midfield through to the forwards.”
As for relating to players, Flohaug said she may have done some yelling in early years but thinks her players would say she got softer as the years went by. “I think that the players knew I trusted them, believed in their ability, and cared about them as people.” That gets reciprocated by players giving their best and returning their respect. “I have been blessed with great kids and families over 20 years here. Hard-working with team mentality and driven to get better.”
Her longtime ally at Centennial is Lori Guyer, the JV coach for the last 17 years. They have run many soccer camps together and “see the game in a very similar way,” which makes transition from JV to varsity so much smoother.
Her long list of all-staters includes: Jenna Roering and Harper three times each; Olivia Lovick, Ashley Osmek, Danika Gieske and Becca Roberts twice each; and Lauren Ahles (this year), Megan Shock, Ashley Ebeling, Mikayla Iaquinto, Caitlyn Bangert, Nan Glinsek, Morgan Wirz, Kirsti Lilja, Anna Kouba and Vanessa Swanson.
Flohaug grew up in a soccer family, as her father was a youth club coach and president of the Coon Rapids Soccer Association, and her brother played for the Minnesota Gophers and was a club soccer coach.
Ginger Jeffrey was a goalkeeper for Coon Rapids High School and for Minnesota-Duluth. With the Cardinals, she made all-conference and played in one state tournament.
At UMD, she logged 31 career wins, including 22 shutouts, posting a career save .835 save percentage, and a Bulldog record 334 career saves. She got coaches association all-America, all-Northern Sun first-team in 1997 and 1998, and all-Central Region as a freshman.
Her other sport was alpine ski, for the Cardinals, Wild Mountain USSA and one year at UMD. She qualified for state three times in high school and for nationals as a college freshman.
A knee injury during that college season (it was her second ACL tear) prompted her to give up competitive skiing. But that was also where she met her husband, Kelly, a fellow UMD skier.
Flohaug started her coaching career with the Duluth East junior varsity and elite club teams. After joining the CHS faculty, she was assistant coach under Ricardo Giorgis for two years, and became head coach in 2005 when Giorgis retired from coaching.
Ginger and Kelly Flohaug were the Alpine co-coaches at Centennial for 10 years, which ended for her when the twins were born. From Kelly, she said, she’s gotten great support in her coaching endeavors throughout the years. “I can’t thank him enough,” she said.