Mikki Denney Wright, now widely considered one of the brightest minds in college soccer and one of the best leaders of young women, just completed her eighth season at the helm of the Golden Gophers soccer team. Denney Wright has successfully implemented one of the most exciting systems of play and most competitive training environments in all of college soccer. In addition, her leadership development program for young women is unparalleled.
Denney Wright took over the reins of the Gophers in January of 2004, in which she embarked on her first collegiate head coaching position with the same work ethic, intelligence and toughness she grew up with. She developed a plan to rebuild a Minnesota soccer program that took on hard times in the early 2000s recording four-straight losing seasons. It was in her plan that the Gophers would return the Big Ten Championship to the Twin Cities and play in the NCAA Tournament. It was in her plan that the program would establish a culture where young women could develop into strong, responsible leaders. It was in her plan that the program would be a pacesetter in its academic work. It was in her plan to create the best training environment for female college players. It was in her plan to develop champions on and off the field. Mission accomplished.
Following the 2011 campaign, Denney Wright hoisted arecord of 91-60-14 for a winning percentage of .594. In the past four seasons, Denney Wright has guided her squads to one Big Ten title (2008), two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances (2008 and 2010) and an overall record of53-19-8 (.713).
Under Denney Wright's control, Minnesota players have been habitually tagged All-Big Ten team members with 14 players receiving the accolade since 2004 andnine additional players being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, including 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Taylor Uhl. The squad has also pulled in six All-Great Lakes Region accolades with three of them coming in 2010. The Gophers have also made their mark on a national scale with Jennie Clark and Kelsey Hood being named All-Americans in 2008. The Gophers have also acquired two Freshman All-Americans in Tamara Strahota (2008) and Uhl (2011) Also, Denney Wright has had four players called up to participate at U.S. national camps (U-20: Cat Parkhill; U-23: Katie Bethke, Clark and Kylie Kallman).
Denney Wright has not only proven to be a skillful teacher, but she also has shown to be one of the top recruiting coaches in the nation. Since 2005, Minnesota has been ranked in the Top 60 nationally and continues to attract some of the nation's best players. Kelsey Hood served as Denney Wright's first national top 100 recruit in 2005 and an array of others have flooded in since. In 2008, Minnesota welcomed its first top 25 recruit in current goalkeeper for the Gophers, Cat Parkhill.
Off the field, Denney Wright takes pride in her squad's ability to excel in the classroom as well. During her eight seasons at the helm, the Gophers have tallied 79 Academic All-Big Ten honors and eight ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades. In 2011, Minnesota notched 10 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
She has guided four former Gophers to sign professional soccer contracts in Katie Bethke, Jennie Clark, Kelsey Hood and Lindsey Schwartz. Bethke and Clark each signed contracts to play in the Women's Professional Soccer league following their senior year in 2010, and they are the first two Gophers to play in the WPS, which is widely regarded as the world's top women's soccer league. Hood began her career in the United Soccer Leagues W-League playing for the Minnesota Lightning but transitioned to join FK Donn, who plays in the Norway's top division. Currently, Hood serves as the captain for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are year in and year out a championship contender in the W-League. Following Schwartz's graduation, she signed to play professionally in Iceland.
Prior to Minnesota, Denney Wright spent three years as the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Missouri. In 2003, the Tigers advanced to the national tournament for the first time in four years and earned the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament win. During her tenure at Missouri, Denney Wright was named Mentor of the Year by a vote of players for the Women's Intersport Network in the state of Missouri. In addition to her duties with the Tigers, Denney Wright also served as a head coach in the Missouri State Olympic Development Program for three years.
Before Missouri, Denney Wright was the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, helping the Mavericks claim the North Central Conference Championship during her one season in Omaha.
Denney Wright began her coaching career as head coach of the Colorado Rush Soccer Club's Under-16 Team from 1998 to 2000.
During her collegiate playing days, Denney Wright served as captain of the Golden Gophers in 1995 and 1996, won a Big Ten Championship and guided the Gophers to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. She was a two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection, as well as, an All-Central Region second-team honoree in 1996. Denney Wright transferred to Minnesota after spending two seasons at the University of North Carolina. After redshirting in 1992, she appeared in 10 matches with one start in 1993 as the Tar Heels won their second-straight NCAA Championship.
Denney Wright owns NSCAA Advanced National Coaching License as well as a USSF 'B' License. She has been a part of the Minnesota ODP State Staff for the past eight years and hosts multiple coaching clinics each year throughout the region. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1997 and a Master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of Denver in 2000. Denney Wright is a popular public speaker in the Twin Cities area with her audiences ranging from young people to corporations to university constituents.
Denney Wright is married to Shane Wright, a former All-American pitcher at Texas Tech University, and he will be inducted into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Fame this fall. She is the daughter of Mike and Bonnie Denney. Her father is currently the head wrestling coach at Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo. He was the former head wrestling coach at University of Nebraska-Omaha for the last 31 seasons, where he led the Mavericks to seven NCAA Division II National Championships, including 2004-06 and 2009-11. She has two brothers, Rocky and Luke, who were both college soccer players at Rockhurst Universityand earned All-State honors in multiple sports in high school. She and her husband Shane have two sons, Forrest and Duke.