"I am extremely honored and proud to be chosen as the next head coach for an organization that is stacked in history, tradition and success," said Gramenz. "I am accepting this position with gratitude, an open mind, determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to help this organization win another championship. We will be looking to add quality talent to the great group of players we already have to solidify our team defensively, but to also add to our dynamic attack. I am expecting a great 2009 campaign!"
Gramenz, who played for the Thunder from 1991 to 2003, took over as interim head coach on July 22 after Amos Magee stepped down in his third season with the team. Gramenz had previously been an assistant coach under Magee as well as director of camps. Under Gramenz the Thunder went 6-3-4 and undefeated in the last six games to earn the final playoff spot in the USL First Division.
"Donny proved to us at the end of last year that he has what it takes to be successful in this league," said Thunder president Manny Lagos. "We're excited to continue the tradition of coaches that are Thunder through and through and believe that Donny is the right guy to lead us into our twentieth season."
"I'm excited for Minnesota, our fans, and our players," said Thunder general manager Djorn Buchholz. "Donny stepped up during a difficult slump last season and helped us to end the season playing great soccer. Manny and I are excited to work with him heading into the 2009 season to put a championship quality squad on the field for our fans."
Gramenz was inducted into the Thunder Hall of Fame in 2004 after an illustrious soccer career. Over his Thunder career he appeared in 212 games in nine professional seasons. As a defender Gramenz tallied 17 goals and 25 assists becoming the all-time leader for Thunder defenders in those categories. He helped the Thunder reach the championship game in six of those nine seasons, winning it all with the Thunder in 1999.
Gramenz was also a member of the 1995 USL Championship All-Tournament Team, a 1996 USL All-Star, and a 1997 A-League All-Star. Gramenz graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee where he was a team captain his senior season and earned First Team All-Mid-Continent and First Team All-Midwest.