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Mark Heiser: Head Coach

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Eight seasons, seven league championships, three national championships.

There wouldn’t seem to be much more for Pioneers Head Coach Mark Heiser to prove and, yet, each season he proves again why he is among the best amateur football coaches in the country.

Since taking over as head coach in 2008, Mark has compiled a 92-12-1 record and captured seven straight league titles – including the last six Northern Elite Football League championships. Dedication, attention to detail and a calm presence in adversity are hallmarks of Mark's coaching style.

2016 will be Mark’s 11th year with the Pioneers overall and ninth year as Head Coach. In his first season as Head Coach, Mark led the Pioneers to an 11-2 record including a division championship, regional championship, and a berth in the NAFL Elite Eight. In 2009, his team won a national title. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Pioneers won the NEFL league title. In 2012, Mark led the Pioneers to the team’s best-ever finish, with a 12-0 undefeated season and another National Championship.

In 2014, the Pioneers won another national title in the USA Bowl. In 2013, his steady hand and calm leadership helped the Pioneers overcome a 0-3 start to finish the year on a 9-1 run, on its way to a 9-4 record and another league title.

Prior to taking over as Head Coach, Mark spent the previous two seasons as the Pioneers Defensive Coordinator orchestrating a defense that led the league in just about every defensive category.

During the 2006 campaign with the Pioneers, Mark assisted in leading the Pioneers to an 11-2 record, an MFL Championship and a USA bowl victory over the undefeated Rochester Giants.

Mark has been involved in Semi-Pro football since 2000, when he began playing nine man football for the Richfield Champps of the Southern Plains Football League. A former four year starter and team captain at Concordia University in St. Paul, Mark played four years of Semi-Pro football.

In 2003 Mark played for the Minnesota Federals and helped the team achieve a 7-3 record. A year later, with the Twin Cities Titans, Mark helped the Titans make it to the GPFL championship game.

In 2005 Mark hung up the pads to become the Defensive Coordinator of the now defunct Twin Cities Titans. In his first year as Defensive Coordinator, Mark coordinated one of the top defenses in the league and helped lead the Titans to the 2005 MFL Championship.

During his coaching career, Mark has coached high school football and basketball at Holy Family Catholic High School, was the Head Girl’s Basketball Coach at St. Paul Academy & Summit School for four seasons and served as the Head Football Coach there for two seasons. For the past two seasons, he has been the head football coach at Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School. 

Mark holds a Masters degree in Human Services with an emphasis in criminal justice and a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education and just completed another Masters degree, in Athletic and Activities Administration through the University of St. Thomas. Mark and his wife Corissa currently live in Woodbury.

You can reach Coach Heiser at mark@pioneersfootball.org

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Jim Walsh: Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line

Jim Walsh has been involved with Minnesota semi-pro football since 1998, when he played defensive line for the Minneapolis Lumberjacks. In 2001, Jim and the Jacks won a Midwest regional championship. In 2002, he joined his brother-in-law Adam Gold and former quarterback Ryan Venturine in forming the St. Paul Pioneers. It was his final season as a player

As defensive line coach, Jim helped the Pioneers win Mid-America football league championships in 2003 and 2004. The 2003 squad was Midwest Region champs and finished national runners-up to the Brooklyn Mariners. After taking the 2005 season off, Jim rejoined the Pioneers and helped them win another MFL title in 2006.

In 2008, as full-fledged members of the North American Football League, Jim helped the Pioneers capture division and regional crowns as defensive coordinator. In 2009, the Pioneers boasted one of the country's best defenses, scoring touchdowns and shutting out multiple teams in the regular season and playoffs. The ultimate result: the NAFL National Championship in Miami, FL. The Pioneers not only held the vaunted Nashville Storm to 21 points on their way to a 23-21 win, but the defense scored again in contributing to the win.

In 2010, the Pioneers opened a new chapter, winning the NEFL championship in their first season in the league and a ball-stealing defense was a big reason why. In 2011, the Pioneers defense led the NEFL and helped lead the Cardinal and Black to another league crown.

In 2012, Jim turned his attention back to where he started: the big boys on the defensive line and his unit proved one of the best in the country as the Pioneers won a second National Championship. In 2013, the defensive line was hit by devastating injuries early in the season but came on strong at the end to once again help the Pioneers capture another championship.

Jim lives in St. Paul with his wife, Heidi, and their two college student children. In his spare time, he is a writer for the Star Tribune.

Coach Walsh can be reached jim@pioneersfootball.org

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Peter Globa: Special Teams Coordinator & Running Backs

In 2012, Pete once again led the Pioneers’ special teams to some pretty heady heights, finishing again among the league’s best in punting, kicking and coverage. Under Pete’s leadership, this unit has become one of the best in the nation. Not bad for his fourth season leading the squad. In his first year as a Pioneers assistant, Pete helped lead the team to a 2009 National Championship. The 2012 squad proved just as strong, helping win a second national title.

Pete’s football playing experience includes playing quarterback during a two year stint at Whittier College in California and playing tight end for two years at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Pete coached youth football, in St Paul, for five seasons with current Pioneers assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Jim Walsh; coaching OL, WR, DB’s and special teams.

Pete's background with St. Paul Parks & Recreation and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation as a Youth Football Grant Coordinator has been crucial to the Pioneers becoming an active organization in St. Paul youth sports. Pete has helped coordinate youth camps and coaching clinics, working closely with city staff. He works as a global sales manager for Eclipse.

Coach Globa can be reached at peter@pioneersfootball.org

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Anthony Minus: Offensive Coordinator

Anthony Minus, a former St. Paul City Conference Coach of the Year who won a National Championship as a player with the Pioneers in 2009 and has coached at the high school, college and amateur football levels is Pioneers offensive coordinator for 2014.

A Minus most recently was the head coach of the Minnesota Silverbacks amateur team. A dean of students for the St. Paul Public Schools, he has a long and distinguished football history and a sharp football mind.

A one-time tight end for Concordia University-St. Paul, who went on to play offensive line for Southwest Minnesota State University, A Minus in 2004 was offered a contract to play with the Sioux City Bandits of the Indoor Football League. As an amateur, Minus won league championships with the Minneapolis Lumberjacks, the Twin Cities Titans, the Buffalo Wildcats and the St. Paul Pioneers. In 2009, Minus helped the Pioneers win the first National Championship ever captured by a Minnesota team, when the Pioneers topped the Nashville Storm in a thrilling last-second victory in Miami, Fl.

His coaching career has been filled with accolades, as well. He coached the defensive line at Augsburg College from 2004 through 2006, working with all MIAC and all region players. From 2007 through 2011, he was head football coach at St. Paul Humboldt High School, where he was named 2010 St. Paul City Conference Coach of the Year. Minus coached the school’s first all-state player in a decade, as well as conference players of the year and all-academic players. The former Nike and USA Football clinician was credited with rebuilding the Humboldt program from just 18 players to a roster of 55.

He left high school coaching to spend more time with his family. But Minus said the pull of rejoining the Pioneers family was too strong to stay away.

“When I saw the Pioneers had an opening for an O coordinator, I just had to try to come back. My commitment to this team is strong. I want to be a part of another national championship,” he said.

A Minus said he intends to coach in a collaborative style, using input from players and coaches to help build upon the Pioneers’ history of offensive success, forged over the past four seasons by Rob Neumann and, before that, Jason Fleming.

“This is a great offense, a great team,” he said. “I want to help take what we do well and help it become better. We have great players, a lot of talent. This will be fun.”

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Bryan Wrich: Offensive Assistant

The Pioneers may be the only team in local amateur football to be adding two championship offensive coordinators to its coaching ranks. Bryan Wrich, the offensive coordinator for the high-scoring Minnesota Sting, is joining the staff as an offensive assistant. Wrich helped guide the Sting offense to Minnesota Premier Football League records for total offense, passing, rushing and scoring.

A coaching change with the Sting, who are joining the Northern Elite Football League in 2014, and a chance to rejoin the Pioneers are the reasons Wrich is coming back to the Cardinal and Black.

“I am pretty excited too,” said the former Pioneers offensive lineman, who played with the original Pioneers squad in 2002. “It’s a good time for a change of scenery for me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Wrich is a 1995 graduate of Park of Cottage Grove High School who went on to play for Minnesota State University-Mankato. He came into adult amateur football with the Woodbury Warriors, before joining the Pioneers. A neck injury ended his playing career but Wrich was itching to get back into the game as a coach. In 2005, he was an assistant at St. Francis High School and with the Oakdale Outlaws, another amateur team.

Wrich went on to call the offense for the Minnesota Phoenix, who regularly faced the Pioneers in the Mid-America Football League and the North American Football League. He then spent a season coaching with the Minnesota Rhinos, before moving on to the Sting.

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Dave Ladd: Defensive Assistant

Dave Ladd has joined the St. Paul Pioneers coaching staff for the 2017 season. An experienced high school and semi-pro coach, Dave will be the Pioneers linebackers coach, helping the St. Paul defense continue its tradition of excellence.

Prior to joining the Pioneers, Dave was the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for the South Metro Patriots of the Northern States Football League. In 2014, Dave was the defensive line coach for the Mid-America Fighting Orioles team that won the NSFL championship. Dave also has coached with the North Bank Bulls of the Northern Elite Football League and the Minnesota Vixen of the Independent Women's Football League.

Dave has coached extensively at the high school level, previously coaching at Bloomington Kennedy High School, St. Louis Park High School and Academy of Holy Angels High School in Richfield. He also serves on the board of directors for the Valley Athletic Association in Apple Valley, MN.

In his playing days, he was a member of back-to-back undefeated state championship teams in Hutchinson, MN. His says his coaching philosophy is centered upon "developing better football players, attention to detail, personal responsibility and the value of teamwork."

When he is not coaching, Dave runs a government relations and strategic communications consulting firm, RDL & Associates. He is an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and loves spending every spare moment he can with his 6-year-old son, Ryan.

Welcome to the Pioneers, Dave!

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Jason Grendzinski
Defensive Assistant 

Jason will be coaching defensive backs and will also help the Pioneers recruit talented players to the organization. He is a 1994 graduate of Thorp (Wis.) High School, where he excelled in three sports. Unfortunately his playing career was cut short due to multiple knee surgeries. 

After coaching youth sports in the Blaine/Coon Rapids area for more than 10 years Jason moved to semi-pro football and coached running backs for the Minnesota Spartans in 2012. In 2013, he became the offensive coordinator for the Midwest Nightmare and, in 2014, was promoted to Head Coach. In the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he compiled a record of 12-4. Jason brings energy and enthusiasm to his new role with the Pioneers and he hopes to help St. Paul continue as one of the best amateur football teams in the country.. 

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