Mahtomedi High School had just started to emerge as a girls soccer power when David Wald joined the coaching staff in 1996. In Wald’s 24 years on the sideline — 10 years as assistant, 14 as head coach — the Zephyrs have enjoyed a rarified level of sustained success.
With its third third consecutive Class A title last week, Mahtomedi how has nine in all, by far the most of any girls program in the state. Benilde-St. Margaret’s is next with four. Apple Valley has the boys record, also nine.
Wald, a mathematics teacher who’d been head coach of the St. Bernard's girls for three years, joined the Zephyr staff as JV coach and varsity assistant in 1996.
The head coach was Mike Redmond, who took the Zephyrs to six state tournaments and four championships between 1995 and 2005, with Wald’s help. When Redmond, after state titles in 2004 and 2005, stepped down from coaching and moved into school administration — he’s currently superintendent at Shakopee — Wald became head coach in 2006.
In Wald’s first year at the helm, Mahtomedi nabbed its third consecutive title. He has gone on to post 232-44-20 record with five state championships.
The next state title came in 2008, his third season. The following year, the Zephyrs lost a championship game for the only time, to unbeaten Rogers. They gotten back on top in 2017-18-19, their second “three-peat.” There was a four-year stretch in Class AA (2011-14) where they were very competitive each year, with one state trip.
Why does Mahtomedi keep winning? Deflecting credit from himself, Wald explains that “success breeds success” and that it really all started when a superstar joined the program in 1995.
That was Jena Kluegel, a midfielder who named to Parade Magazine’s All-America team all three of her seasons, shared the national player of the year award in 1998, led the Zephyrs to their first two state trips and first championship, and then played for Team USA four years.
“Jena Kluegal joined our up-and-coming team and took us to the next level,” said Wald. “We made it to state for the first time, and it got the community excited about girls soccer.
“Since then it has really snowballed, with the number of kids playing soccer in the community and the parents getting their kids opportunities with top clubs in the off season.”
Asked about Mahtomedi’s 9-1 record in state championships, he said it helps a lot that they’ve been there before.
“We know how to warm up our team in the hallways of the stadium. We know how to make the most of our 20 minutes on the field before the game. We do scout, but we usually focus on our team and not our opponent. It definitely is an advantage … When teams get to state for the first time, they tend to get wide eyed.”
In college at St. Thomas, he helped the Tommies reach Division II nationals twice. “I was never the star of the team,” he said, “but I was always given the hardest worker award.”
Wald was a three-sport athlete Alexander Ramsey High School, graduating in 1986, the year before Ramsey merged with Kellogg to become Roseville Area. He played center midfielder in soccer, point guard in basketball, and doubles in tennis. He made all-conference in basketball and soccer.
“But I never had the team success of going to state or winning conference championships,” he said, “which is probably what drives me as a coach.”