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Portland Thorns tab assistant Mike Norris as next head coach

Mike Norris served as an assistant to Rhian Wilkinson during the 2022 season. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Mike Norris is taking over as coach of the Portland Thorns, the club announced Monday.

Norris, who served as an assistant coach during the 2022 season in which the Thorns won the NWSL title, has a plethora of coaching experience. Prior to joining the Thorns staff in January 2022, he worked with Canada’s youth and senior national teams.

“During his time with the club, he has exhibited an ability to connect with the players by not only helping them develop as athletes, but also grow as people,” Thorns general manager Karina LeBlanc said in a statement. “Mike is an asset to the Thorns, and we look forward to him leading us in this new direction.”

The 43-year-old coach has extensive experience as a goalkeepers coach, the role he held for the Canada women’s national team during its run to the Olympic gold medal in 2021. He was tasked with providing strategy for goalies on set pieces and penalty kicks.

Norris will take over for Rhian Wilkinson, who resigned in December, shortly after the Thorns won the NWSL championship. The former coach stepped down after a text message exchange with Thorns player Emily Menges in which they discussed romantic feelings for one another. Wilkinson was cleared of wrongdoing but still chose to resign.

“Mike is an experienced coach with a wealth of knowledge in the women’s game, who is respected by all that know him,” Wilkinson said at the time of his hiring. “He is hard-working, diligent and thorough in his planning, a strong on-field coach with a deep understanding of the game and a great person away from the field.”