Centennial girls’ soccer motto took on new meaning as coach steps down

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Allergic to caffeine, Ginger Flohaug found coaching the Centennial girls’ soccer team for two decades to be all the stimulant necessary.

The 2020 fall season was her last with the Cougars. And because COVID-19 concerns wiped out the state tournament, questions will always remain about just how far her final team would have gone.

The Cougars finished 13-1 and won the Class 2A, Section 7 title. They shutout all three playoff opponents and were led by Ms. Soccer winner Khyah Harper. Flohaug’s 2016 team won the state tournament, and she felt her team last fall boasted similar intangibles.

“They were best friends off the field,” said Flohaug, who transitioned to the school’s assistant activities director. “That is the X-factor some teams just don’t have. And you can’t create it; you can’t make believe it. That connection on the field was going to take us a long way into the state tournament. But we won’t know.”

Flohaug, the Star Tribune girls’ team coach of the year, concluded an 18-year head coaching career with impressive numbers: a 219-67-27 record, 25 all state first- or second-team selections and 59 graduates who played on college teams.

When she told her team before the season started that it would be her last, the original motto of “All For One” took on new meaning.

“Throughout the season, some of the girls kept saying, ‘We’re doing this for Ginger,’ but I really didn’t it want to be just about my last season,” Flohaug said. “Because the seniors always talk about that for themselves as well. The juniors would talk about doing it for the seniors and then we would come back to All For One. Doing it for Centennial.”

Flohaug, a Coon Rapids graduate, served two seasons as a Centennial assistant coach before taking over the program. Longtime Cougars junior varsity coach Lori Guyer always appreciated Flohaug’s zest for the job.

“Sometimes it was like, ‘Dang, this girl never stops,’ ” Guyer said. “She has a tireless work ethic. It wasn’t just a job for her. It was an everyday passion.”

Flexibility was another of Flohaug’s strengths.

“She let me be me,” Guyer said. “I felt heard. You don’t always get that. And that is what helped her connect to the players, too. She got them to buy-in and trust that what she was telling them would work.”

Managing the COVID-19 protocols made every day a tightrope walk. Flohaug’s varsity team, a mix of only juniors and seniors, stuck together and avoided the need to quarantine.

Flohaug considered it a victory to not lose any additional time in an already abbreviated season.

“They had state tournament dreams this year,” Flohaug said. “We didn’t have a state tournament, but we were glad that we got to play as long as we did.”

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