Former Washington coach knew he "wanted to get back in"
When he resigned as the head coach at Washington College on May 12, J.B. Clarke considered opportunities in administration and the private sector. But his head and heart never strayed far from coaching, which is why Clarke jumped at the chance to become the head coach at Limestone College, a Division II program in Gaffney, S.C.
"I knew I wanted to get back in," Clarke said Tuesday. "I didn’t spend much time at all looking at other options."
Clarke, who was named as the program’s fifth head coach on Monday, replaces Mike Cerino, who surrendered his coaching duties to devote himself fully to his role as the school’s athletic director.
Clarke, who has known Cerino for more than two decades, said he was intrigued by the position with the Saints after talking to Cerino.
"He and started talking about this a while ago, and it really came to fruition last week when I was down here visiting," Clarke said. "And today, I’m sitting in the office."
Under Clarke, Washington College had compiled a 138-63 record and qualified for seven NCAA Division III Tournaments. But Washington went 4-10 this past season, missing the tournament for the third time in the last four years, and the team had to overcome a hazing incident during the offseason.
Clarke inherits a Limestone squad that went 12-2 and has collected 10 or more victories in 12 straight years. The team made its 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament, capturing the national championship in 2000 and 2002 and finishing as a runner-up in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Clarke said he understands the level of expectation with the Saints.
"They anticipate competing for conference championships and for national championships, which is exciting to me," he said. "The level of commitment here to men’s lacrosse and athletics as an institution is just fabulous. I haven’t seen anything like this in quite some time. So I’m excited about that. Certainly, having my boss being someone who understands the chair I sit in is exciting to me. But really, the most incredible thing that I’ve seen in my time looking at Limestone over the last couple of weeks has been the commitment that they have to this program and to athletics as an institution. It’s been remarkable."
Clarke makes the move from Division III to Division II, which brings scholarships into the picture. But Clarke, who has served as an assistant at Division I stops like Loyola, Duke and Ohio State, said he is eager to make the leap.
"We have more practices in the fall, we have more opportunities to work with our student athletes than you do in Division III as far as athletically-related activities," he said. "For example, they’re allowed to go to the weight room as a team in the offseason whereas in Division III, you can’t. So from those two standpoints, it’s quite a difference, and I’m really excited about being able to spend more time with the students as athletes. So that will be a welcome change for me."