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From NASCAR to the NFL, here are the stats on the professional athletes who call Lakeland home.

Lakeland might appear to be an unassuming small town, but the city has served as the breeding ground for many athletes who have gone pro. Some of these hometown heroes were born and raised in Lakeland. Others relocated to the area as a child or teenager before taking on the big leagues. Whatever their journey includes, their determination, ambition, and dedication to their respective games helped them go pro. Their accomplishments have not only helped put Lakeland on the map but created a unanimous ambiance of pride for locals to cheer them on from home base.

ANDY BEAN // PGA

• Went pro in 1975
• Ranked top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings in 1986 and 1987
• Finished second place in the 1980, 1983 and 1989 PGA Championships
• Won Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn in 2006 and Regions Charity Classic in 2008
• Inducted in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2000

BRI FOLDS // NWSL

• Lakeland Christian School: 86 games played, 173 goals, 155 assists, 501 points
Auburn University: sixth player in program history to be named an All-American, 22 assists, 178 shots and nine game-winning goals entering into her senior year.
Drafted by NC Courage in NWSL Draft in January 2020

For more information on Bri Folds, check out the feature story on the Lakeland Christian School girls’ soccer team.

LEE JANZEN // PGA

Joined the PGA tour in 1989 and went on to win eight times, including twice in the U.S. Open in 1993 and 1998
Top 10 in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 1996
Won prestigious Players Championship in 1995

JOE NEMECHEK // Nascar

Born in Lakeland
Broke the record for All-Time Starts at the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in November 2019 as the event marked his 1,186th career start
He and his son, Jon Hunter Nemechek, were the first father-son team to compete in all three NASCAR races
Garnered 20 wins in NASCAR’s national series, including four Cup Series wins between 1999 and 2004

STEVE PEARCE // MLB Left Fielder

Lakeland High School
Broke the record for All-Time Starts at the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in November 2019 as the event marked his 1,186th career start
In 2005 he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in Round Eight, Overall Pick: 241
• Has also played for Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox

MAURKICE POUNCEY // NFL Center

Twin brother of Mike Pouncey
Lakeland High School
Has played for Pittsburgh Steelers since 2010
• Has played in 121 total games in his NFL career so far, according to NFL.com

MIKE POUNCEY // NFL Center

Twin brother of Maurkice Pouncey
Lakeland High School
Played for Miami Dolphins from 2011-2017 and currently L.A. Chargers since 2018 (placed on injured reserve on October 9, 2019 after neck injury)
• Has played in 114 total games in his NFL career so far, according to NFL.com

CHRIS SALE // MLB Pitcher

Lakeland High School
Drafted in the 21st round of MLB by Colorado Rockies in 2007 but opted to attend Florida Gulf Coast University instead
Later drafted by Chicago White Sox, 13th overall selection in MLB Draft in 2010, and played with the team until 2016
• Traded to Boston Red Sox in 2016

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