When Jeremy Christian led Point University to the Avista-NAIA World Series by winning the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round Savannah Bracket in May, neither he nor anyone involved with host USCB realized it would turn into an audition.
Three months later, though, Christian is ready to take over one of the programs his team ousted from the postseason.
USCB announced Christian as the third head coach in the history of its baseball program Monday, citing his success in building strong programs with limited resources, his commitment to coaching with character, and his energy and charismatic personality among the assets that made him the top candidate for the job.
"After an exhaustive search, it became clear to our search committee that Coach Christian was the right person to take our program forward in a manner I'm most excited about," USCB Director of Athletics Quin Monahan said. "Of course he has a passion for the game and an undeniable drive to win, but even more so he wants to do so while mentoring his young student-athletes into men of character."
During the interview process, Christian emphasized his philosophy of recruiting blue-collar players who display strong character and work ethic and his commitment to developing players. His program will foster a competitive atmosphere in which every player knows he will have a chance to earn playing time.
"We're going to compete. Every day, we're going to compete," said Christian, whose Point team became the first No. 5 seed to advance to the NAIA World Series in the Opening Round era. "Every day we'll have a winner and a loser. If we're in the cafeteria eating chicken wings, we'll have a winner and a loser. I want guys who are ready to line up and see who can tie their shoes the fastest."
On the field, Christian believes in putting pressure on the opponent – "pressure bursts pipes," he says – and capitalizing on mistakes. His teams historically have put up impressive offensive numbers and shown a penchant for being aggressive on the base paths.
Christian emerged from a pool of more than 60 qualified candidates, including a number of experienced head coaches at the NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I levels, as well as several accomplished NCAA Division I assistants.
"I knew we would have a great pool of candidates to choose from, but I was not prepared for the range and depth of interest we received from across the country," Monahan said. "With as many qualified candidates we had to choose from, I'm am so pleased Jeremy has agreed to become a Sand Shark. I am excited for this next chapter of USCB baseball."
Christian was a standout player at Milligan College in Tennessee, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Communication with a minor in Exercise Science and Coaching. He then spent two years as a graduate assistant with the University of Tennessee strength and conditioning staff while earning his master's degree in Communication and Electronic Media.
A native of Bristol, Va., Christian began his coaching career as an assistant at Union College in Kentucky, where his two-year stay included a school-record 48 wins and a conference title and the team climbed as high as No. 7 in the NAIA rankings. Christian returned home in 2008 as an assistant coach at Virginia Intermont College, and he took over as the Cobras' head coach two years later.
Christian rebuilt Virginia Intermont into a contender in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, and in 2013 led the Cobras to a 31-18 mark – the program's highest win total since 1997 – and a runner-up finish in the AAC Tournament.
When Virginia Intermont closed its doors in 2014, Christian took over as head coach at Point and immediately elevated the program to new heights. The Skyhawks posted the best conference record in their history in his first season and in year two finished with school records for wins (34) and conference wins (17) before claiming the Savannah Bracket and advancing to the Avista-NAIA World Series for the first time.
"I've enjoyed the challenge of rebuilding programs, but I'm excited about the opportunity to come into a situation where there's already a strong foundation in place and take it to the next level," Christian said. "I can't wait to get started and see how many games Sand Shark baseball can win for the next 20 years.
"I'm extremely excited to be the next head baseball coach at USCB," Christian added. "I'm grateful to Dr. Panu and Quin Monahan for giving me the opportunity to lead such a tremendous program. My family and I look forward to meeting the Sand Shark Nation and beginning our life in the navy and sand."