Clarke heads Zone 5

Posts 194-25 head coach Jeff Clarke, left, talks with Sam Merriman during the team’s July 11 game versus Naugatuck. Clarke was named chairman of Zone 5 on July 1. –FILE PHOTO

Posts 194-25 head coach Jeff Clarke, left, talks with Sam Merriman during the team’s July 11 game versus Naugatuck. Clarke was named chairman of Zone 5 on July 1. –FILE PHOTO

PROSPECT — The Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion baseball season came to an end last week, but for general manager and head coach Jeff Clarke the work has just begun.

Clarke will be kept busy in his new position as chairman of Zone 5.

When American Legion Posts 194 in Prospect and 25 in Beacon Falls began a baseball program as a joint effort 10 years ago, Clarke was in on the ground floor to help build the program.

Clarke served as manager of the Junior Legion team and assistant coach for the Senior Legion team the first four years of the team’s existence. Prospect-Beacon Falls then became a Senior Legion team only when the numbers dropped off and for the next three years Clarke served as first base coach and worked with the pitchers.

In 2012 general manager Larry Renna and head coach Jim Augelli retired and Clarke took over general manager and head coaching duties. Don Ensero has been with the program as a veteran coach since it began.

On July 1 Clarke was named the new Zone 5 chairman taking on a larger role in American Legion baseball in Connecticut. There are eight zones in the state with Zone 5 being one of the largest with 10 Senior Division teams and eight Junior Division teams.

Clarke replaced former Zone 5 Chairman Paul Iverson, who held the position for the past 10 years. Iverson was elected as assistant state director and approached Clarke about the chairman job in the middle of the season.

“I’m honored to have been even considered for the position,” Clarke said.

Being chairman comes with a laundry list of day-to-day activities that includes updating the zone general managers on any rule changes, procedures and policies. Clarke is also responsible for collecting the documentation that needs to be forwarded to the state, attend State Committee meetings, oversee appeals and suspensions and make decisions on rules interpretations.

“The first few weeks were full of activity,” Clarke said. “It’s all part of the job. My goal is to continue the status of Zone 5 as being the best zone in the state. I have an experienced group of general managers and head coaches to work with and I also have a great mentor in Paul Iverson to help me through the coming months.”

Even with his new responsibilities, Clarke will still be there for the Prospect-Beacon Falls program.

“As far as the Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion baseball program, I will do anything to help my kids progress in baseball and in life. I am so blessed to work with a great group of kids and parents. I have been coaching many of these kids since they were in Little League and AABC travel ball.”

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