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UND hires former player Brett Holinka to coach defensive line

Brett Holinka

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota football program tapped an alum to fill its latest coaching vacancy.

The Fighting Hawks hired Brett Holinka as defensive line coach on Wednesday, Feb. 13, filling the void of Jordan Gigli, who left in late January for the same job at Northern Illinois.

“Brett played here and understands the commitment it takes to contribute to the rich winning tradition of North Dakota football,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We look forward to the experience that he will bring to the defense and the passion he will bring to the staff as we soar for new heights of Fighting Hawk football.”

Holinka, a Dickinson, N.D., native, has been the defensive coordinator at the University of Mary in Bismarck since 2017.

He previously coached for three seasons at Winona State (special teams coordinator and linebackers coach) and for two at Rutgers (defensive quality control coach).

Holinka started his college coaching career at NCAA Division III St. Thomas (2010-11).

UND uses a 3-4 defense, which Holinka operated at Winona, Mary and St. Thomas.

Prior to his time at St. Thomas, he coached linebackers at Dickinson Trinity High School.

A 2009 UND graduate, Holinka was an all-Great West Conference linebacker in 2008. He earned all-North Central Conference honorable mention as a linebacker in 2007.

As a two-time North Central Conference champion (2005-06), Holinka played for Mary athletic director and former UND coach Dale Lennon.

“Just coming back to Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota was a big deal for me,” Holinka said. “Playing here and being here those five years, it’s a special place for me.”

Holinka, 33, was in the same UND recruiting class as new UND offensive coordinator Danny Freund. As a senior in high school, Holinka was also recruited to UND by Schweigert, who later left to take a coaching job at Minnesota Duluth.

Holinka, who played inside linebacker at UND, said he anticipates recruiting the Chicago area, as well as Iowa.