Heikkinen Leads Ex-Players Turned Coaches

By KBJR News 1

Heikkinen Leads Ex-Players Turned Coaches

July 25, 2013 Updated Jul 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Four former University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) football players, with a combined seven NCAA Division II championship rings between them, will serve on the Bulldogs' coaching staff for the upcoming 2013 season.

Luke Schalekamp (defensive backs) and graduate assistants Garth Heikkinen (tight ends), Tyler Johnson (outside linebackers) and Noah Pauley (wide receivers) will join first-year head coach Curt Wiese and his staff for the upcoming season, which begins with the team's home opener on Sept. 7.

More information is listed below about each of the new UMD coaches, as provided by the school's athletic department.

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Schalekamp, who holds the distinction of being just one of two individuals to win an NCAA Division II title both as a UMD player and coach, served as an assistant with the Bulldogs for a pair of seasons (2009 and 2010) before taking a job with the Minnesota Conservation Corps. The Fergus Falls, Minn., native, closed out his collegiate playing days five years ago by establishing career bests for both receptions (16) and receiving yards (149) with the NCAA II champion Bulldogs. In all, he appeared in 34 lifetime colllegiate games, including five as a starter.

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As a senior co-captain last fall, Heikkinen was bestowed with the Gene Upshaw National Division II Lineman of the Year Award (a Bulldog first) in addition to being selected to a UMD-best six different All-American teams -- Associated Press (Little All-American first team), American Football Coaches Association (first team), d2football.com (first team), Daktronics (first team), Don Hansen (first team) and Beyond Sports College Network (second team). This past January, he took part in the East-West Shrine Game, joining future New England Patriot and Green Bay Packer offensive lineman Dave Viaene (1988) as the only two Bulldogs to ever do so. The Duluth Central High School alumnus started a school-record 54 consecutive games since the 2009 opener on his way to becoming UMD's first four-time All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honoree (North Division first team in 2010-12 and honorable mention in 2009). Heikkinen, who was a freshman redshirt for the 2008 Bulldogs, attended the Minnesota Vikings Rookie Camp last May.

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Johnson received All-NSIC second team recognition as a senior in 2009 after being credited with a personal-best 19 total tackles and two pass breakups from the nose tackle position. A two-time NSIC Academic Team honoree and 2007 North Central Conference Commissioners honor roll recipient, he started the final 20 game of his college career. After graduating from UMD in the spring of 2010, Johnson taught third grade for three years in the city he was born and raised – Rhinelander, Wis. – while also serving on the football coaching staff at Rhinelander High School. In 2012, he took over as the team's defensive coordinator and helped shepherd the Hodags to their first WIAA playoff appearance in 23 years.

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Pauley, who between 2007-10 established himself as one of UMD’s more dynamic performers, was a Bulldog student assistant coach during the 2011 season. In 47 career outings, the former Duluth Central High School three-sport star hauled in 100 passes (a milestone only nine other Bulldogs have ever reached) for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns. He made his final catch as a collegian in UMD’s NCAA II quarterfinal-round victory over Augustana College on Dec. 4, 2010 and suffered a season-ending clavicle injury that same afternoon, forcing him to take in the national championship game two weeks later from the sidelines. After cutting his collegiate teeth as a true freshman in 2007, Pauley proceeded to pace the Bulldogs in both punt and kick returns the following season when they brought home their second NCAA II crown in two years.

Posted by Zach Schneider
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