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Lakeland College looked within the family to hire its new head baseball coach.
Chris Thousand, the team's associate head coach this past season, a standout baseball player for the Muskies and a member of the Lakeland family for the past eight years, is Lakeland 's new head baseball coach.
"This is really a dream come true," said Thousand, who has served as an assistant coach since graduating from Lakeland in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in Sports Studies/Facilities Management. "Since the end of my first year as a graduate assistant I have had the goal of being head coach here at my alma mater. I feel very comfortable with the program and the transition seems natural to me.
"Lakeland has done a great deal for me, now I'm ready to improve the lives of our players through baseball, and help the college prepare our young men for graduation and life after Lakeland ."
Thousand came to Lakeland as a student and baseball player from tiny Barneveld in 1998. As a senior, he helped lead the Muskies to a fifth-place finish nationally after the only NCAA Division III World Series appearance by a Lake Michigan Conference program. A force on both offense and as a pitcher, he finished his playing career listed in 14 categories in the Lakeland record book.
As a coach for the last four years, Thousand instructed Lakeland's hitters for three seasons and further helped re-write the Lakeland record books. Under Thousand's leadership, recent Lakeland teams are second and fourth in Lakeland history in runs scored, second and third in hits in a season, third and fourth in team batting average, second in home runs, second and third in doubles and second and fourth in runs batted in.
"Chris has been a valued member of our athletic family here at Lakeland , and I'm thrilled that he will have an opportunity to be head coach of this program," said Lakeland Athletic Director Jane Bouche. "A lot of us have watched Chris grow since he arrived here as a freshman, and seeing him reach this point in his career means a lot to many people here."
Off the field, Thousand has taken on significantly larger roles in the last several years in recruiting and scheduling for the baseball program and organizing fundraising and baseball camps.
In addition to his duties as a baseball coach, Thousand has been Lakeland 's athletic building manager since September of 2004. During the summer of 2004, he worked as an operations crew member for the Ryder Cup event at Oakland Hills in Michigan , then served on the crew for the PGA Championship at nearby Whistling Straits. He has also worked in operations at The Bull golf course outside of Sheboygan Falls.
The Thousand family has deep roots at Lakeland . Chris' sister Casey is a 2004 Lakeland graduate, a former Lakeland women's basketball standout and this past season was an assistant basketball coach at MacMurray College . Another younger sister, Connie, will be a junior at Lakeland this coming year and a junior on the women's basketball team.
Chris' wife, Danielle, is a 2002 Lakeland graduate. They live in Sheboygan with their 10-month-old daughter, Taylee.
"We feel we owe this place a lot," Chris said. "My wife and I consider this place home. This coming season, three of our baseball players will have brothers enrolling at Lakeland . It all has to do with the family atmosphere here."