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Chris Thousand, Lakeland College's head baseball coach for the past five seasons and a fixture in the program for more than a decade, has resigned. His wife, Danielle, has accepted a job in Madison and the family is moving.
Thousand's tenure as head coach was a culmination of his career with the Muskies, which began as a player. The 2002 Lakeland graduate led the baseball team to a 75-111 record in his five seasons, 47-61 in conference play. The 2010 team finished with 21 wins, the first 20-win season since 2005, and Thousand was named Northern Athletics Conference Coach of the Year.
"I really love coaching and working with the student-athletes," Thousand said. "The relationships with the players are what I truly love, and that will be something that I will miss. I'm very grateful to the people that I have met in my time at Lakeland, and for the learning opportunities throughout my time here.
"I hope that people have respected the work that I have done for Lakeland, and I am very thankful for the opportunity. I think that the baseball program is in a good spot for the next coach. We have some great people in the program right now that are willing to put in the hard work and get better."
Thousand was named head coach in 2006 after serving as assistant coach for four years and following a standout, four-year career with the Muskies as a pitcher. As a senior in 2002, he helped lead Lakeland to a fifth-place finish nationally as part of the only NCAA Division III World Series appearance by a Lake Michigan Conference program. He closed out his playing career listed in 14 categories in the Lakeland record book.
"Chris has been an important part of not only our baseball program, but of Lakeland athletics over the last several years," said Lakeland athletic director Jane Bouche. "We've all enjoyed watching Chris develop from a player to the leader of our program. Chris and his family will always be members of the Lakeland family, and their presence here will be missed."
Bouche said a national search for a new baseball coach is underway.
A native of Barneveld, Wis., Thousand instructed many Lakeland's hitters and further helped re-write the Lakeland record books. Under Thousand's leadership, 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.
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. Thousand has been Lakeland's athletic building manager since September of 2004.
The Thousand family has deep roots at Lakeland. Chris' younger sister, Casey, is a 2004 Lakeland graduate, a former Lakeland women's basketball standout and is currently the head women's basketball coach at Edgewood College. Another younger sister, Connie, also graduated from Lakeland in May 2008 and currently resides in Sheboygan with her husband, Mitch Heinemeyer, who serves as an assistant baseball coach for Lakeland.
Chris' wife, Danielle, is a 2002 Lakeland graduate, and they have three young children.
Thousand's undergraduate degree is in sports studies/facilities management, and he received his master of arts in counseling from Lakeland in May 2009.