VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State wanted its new softball coach to come from a winning program. They did even better than that -- they got the coach of the Division II national champions.

Valdosta State has hired Lynn University coach Thomas Macera to be its new softball coach. Last season, Macera coached Lynn to the Division II national championship.

"I am very excited that Thomas is joining our athletic family," VSU athletic director Herb Reinhard said. "He has consistently produced outstanding teams, which have excelled on the field and in the classroom. His hiring is a positive first step in moving our softball program back to the top of the extremely competitive Gulf South Conference."

To be able to reel in the coach of the national champs constitutes a major coup for a softball program that went 26-40 last year, like Valdosta State did.

Macera was, however, desperately hoping to land the Valdosta State job, and for good reason. His wife Tana, a nurse practitioner in Valdosta, and four-year old daughter Taylor live Dasher, and the family is expecting a second child in November. Macera spent much of the past year away from his family while at Lynn, located in Boca Raton, Fla.

"I can't put into words how excited I am about this opportunity," Macera said. "This is the one job I've wanted. We've lived here for the last 18 years, my wife's (family is from here and now we'll be playing in our back yard."

Macera, 39, holds both bachelor's (1996) and master's (2003) degrees from Valdosta State. He was an assistant coach at VSU under the late Ron Durante in the 1990's, then moved on to the head coaching job at Thomas University in Thomasville from 1999-2004. At Thomas, he compiled a 206-67 (.755) record. His last team rolled up a 53-4 record, which ended with the NAIA national championship.

After the championship at Thomas, Macera took the head job at Lynn. He directed the Fighting Knights to a 54-7 record. The team was undefeated in NCAA Division II regional and national tournament play. In the national semifinals, Lynn snapped Northern Kentucky's national record 55-game winning streak, then defeated Kennesaw State 5-3 to claim the national title.

His unparalleled success has earned him coach of the year honors at conference, regional and national levels in both the NAIA and the NCAA.

Once Macera settles into his new job (around July 1), he'll turn his attention to recruiting, which is a very strong part of his resume.

"We have a good core group of players coming back, and the goal will be to find some recruits to compliment them," Macera said. "I don't think I'll have a hard time getting players to commit to Valdosta State. It's a great university with wonderful facilities."

Macera inherits a team which finished 26-40, and he looks forward to the challenge of rebuilding the program. His first team at Thomas finished 33-21 after going 8-34 the previous season.

"I haven't re-invented the wheel. I've taken things from other coaches and other programs and found a formula that works," Macera said. "Winning obviously helps because your players buy into it quicker. The goal is to get the train moving in the right direction."

Macera is leaving one outstanding softball conference (Sunshine State) for another that is equally outstanding.

"The Gulf South is easily as competitive as the Sunshine State," he said. "Getting past West Florida and Alabama-Huntsville in the regional really prepared us for the national tournament field. I think our region is the toughest in the country."

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