Former Northern Michigan University women’s basketball assistant coach Casey Thousand to take reins of Wildcats’ program

Casey Thousand has been named the women's basketball head coach at Northern Michigan University. She was an assistant and associate head coach of the Wildcats from 2016-19, but has been the head coach at another NCAA Division II school, Illinois-Springfield, for the past three seasons. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — A former assistant and associated head coach at Northern Michigan University has returned as the head coach of the Wildcats women’s basketball team, the university announced on Thursday.

Casey Thousand was an assistant coach under recently retired NMU head coach Troy Mattson from 2016-18 and associated head coach in the 2018-19 season.

Following the 2018-19 season, she became head coach at another NCAA Division II school, the University of Illinois-Springfield, a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. She’s been there through the end of this past season.

“Casey is detail-oriented and brings a complete understanding of what it takes to be successful at the NCAA D-2 level,” NMU Director of Athletics Forrest Karr said in a news release announcing the hiring. “Everyone who has worked with Casey mentions her honesty, integrity and positive attitude.

“Casey has a caring way of addressing issues and helping others overcome challenges. She sees the bigger picture, prioritizes academics and always goes above and beyond to support other teams and volunteer at university events. I trust her to take care of NMU student-athletes.”

At Illinois-Springfield, Thousand led the Prairie Stars to an improved record each season. UIS had an overall mark of 17-11 in 2021-22, its best season in 23 years with a program-record 11 wins in the GLVC, a league that is often joined with the GLIAC in NCAA regional basketball tournaments.

Hosting and winning a first-round league tournament game, defeating Division I Bradley University on the road and having two players recognized on the All-GLVC teams were among her notable accomplishments last season. UIS leading scorer Lauren Ladowski improved each season under Thousand, going from All-GLVC Third Team in 2019-20 to Second Team in 2020-21 to First Team last season.

Thousand’s teams also had success in the classroom. In 2019-20, the Prairie Stars had 10 GLVC academic all-conference honorees with a team grade point average of 3.56, the best in program history. In 2020-21, UIS had eight student-athletes earn GLVC Academic All-Conference recognition.

“I am so excited to be back at NMU!” Thousand said. “I cannot wait to reconnect with so many great people in the Marquette area, the alumni and the NMU community. I am thrilled to be back in the Berry and to start working with the team.”

Thousand spent three seasons working with Mattson at NMU. In those campaigns, the Wildcats went 55-36. In 2018-19, NMU was 23-10, reaching the GLIAC championship game and making a run to the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals.

Thousand’s duties while at NMU included leading student-athletes on and off the court, developing and implementing fundraising activities, managing the program’s budgets, running camps and clinics, scouting opponents and breaking down game film.

In addition to her coaching duties, Thousand served as an adjunct professor in Northern’s Department of Health and Human Performance from 2016-19 and was the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee supervisor in 2018-19.

Prior to Marquette, Thousand was head coach at Division III Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. From 2009-16, Edgewood compiled a 74-57 record in Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference games.

Thousand was also an assistant coach at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from 2006-09, when the team went 51-28. In the 2005-06 season, Thousand was an assistant at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where the team boasted a 26-3 record.

Thousand graduated from Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in sports and facility management and a minor in business. She earned her masters degree with an emphasis in leadership from Carthage in 2009. In 2021, Thousand completed her women in leadership certification at Cornell University in Springfield, Illinois.

A four-year all-conference player at Lakeland, Thousand was a standout performer, guiding the team to an undefeated conference season and an NCAA tournament berth as a senior.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today