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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."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Washington
        

Comments

It goes to show you that WAC is not supporting their athletics from an administration stand-point.

Look at what Clarke says in this post, ""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." If that is not indirectly stating that WAC's administration is demphasizing athletics then I don't know what is. I also find it interesting how Clarke takes a jab at WAC's AD by referring to the Limestone AD, "Certainly, having my boss being someone who understands the chair I sit in is exciting to me."

The hiring of WAC's new lax coach who was 13-46 at VMI should also upset all the WAC athletic alumni because the school is not making a commitment to athletics.

What a said turn of events in WAC sports and the WAC administration and AD Matthews should be held accountable.

You are reading into his comments WAY too much. He said basically the same thing all new coaching hires say. Also, people who actually know what they're talking about think Shirk is a great hire at WAC. It's incredibly hard to compete at VMI at the D1 level, hence the record. So time will tell, hopefully you will be eating your words one day........

I am willing to admit that I may be wrong about Shirk not being a great hire at WAC. I am by no means a lax expert nor am I former lax player. However, I don't think you have any idea of the athletic environment at WAC.

I am perfectly aware that winning at a military school at the D1 level is very difficult. However, I am a former student athlete and WAC alum and there is a general consensus among the athletic coaches at WAC that the institution as a whole is not supporting athletics or the student athletes as much as they should. There is a growing sense of frustration about this and it has been escalating for some time. I have spoken directly, via e-mail, to AD Matthews, former college president Tipson, and VP of admissions Kevin Coveney about this concern last fall and their response then totally contradicts Clarke's comments. So how am I reading into his comments WAY too much?

I think you are blind and naive not to question the direction of the athletic department at WAC based on this overall sentiment by the coaches, the poor athletic performances at WAC across the board over the past 10 years, and Clarke's comments.

Bates, you are right on the money. It is know by many of the alumni and former players that W.C. has lost sight of their athletic programs. Matthews is the next that needs to go in my opinion. He is a figure head who as a former player has done way too little for W.C.'s main sport. If the new president is not on board with the athletic programs, he is in for rude awaking from the alumni donors. I was just back for my 20th reunion and the turn out was light, and a lot had to do with how far south the lax program has fallen. I am glad that Clarke is gone, but there has been no mentioned of the candidates which discourages me. Hopefully they will get it right and realize that we need a coach who is a great recruiter, old school, and has some Baltimore ties. Then as you alluded too, free up some financial aid so these kids don't have to play for some crappy school located near a chicken plant.

I see both sides of the arguement, but I also believe you are misunderstanding the quotes.

Clarke is replacing the man who started and led the Limestone men's lacrosse program to a national championship. That was the first ever national championship in the program's history and I believe they have at least one more. It mostly means it is just nice to have a guy that sat in the same seat as his boss.

For Shirk, I think he is a good hire for WAC. From everything I have read he is a young dedicated coach that spent time at UMD before moving onto VMI. He doesn't have the best record, but he improved the team each season. While WAC needs that, it will not take them that long to get back into the conversation as one of the elite teams.

Rob - Salisbury University, the crappy school located near a chicken plant, has kicked your face in for the last several years and owns a 23-19 series lead over you. Not to mention they had to build another trophy case for the 8 National Championships and countless Clark Cup trophies won throughout the years. If you care to see them you should stop by the school. They are located in the Maggs Athletic Center when you walk in the door and we won't mind if you come down to see them. By the way are you sure that lacrosse is the sport at Washington College? Doesn't the tennis team have more National Championship trophies than your beloved lacrosse program?

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About Faceoff
Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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