FAIRFIELD — Ron Clarke is finally getting his due.
After 17 years of as a head coach at the varsity level (30-plus years total), Clarke, who was unceremoniously not re-hired at Fairfield High for the 2011 season, will be among the 19 athletes and 10 coaches inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame today at Power Balance Pavilion.
The honor comes on the heels of a coaching career in which Clarke compiled some impressive numbers and coached some even more impressive athletes.
“It’s a great honor,” Clarke said in a phone interview from his Stockton home Saturday. “It’s thanks to a lot of other people of course, though. Many coaches – (longtime co-head coach) Ed Houk is one of the main ones – and hundreds of girls.”
Among those hundreds of girls was 2002 Gatorade National Player of the Year Alicia Hollowell, who holds nearly every pitching record in the city.
“Holowell was one of the greats, that’s for sure,” Clarke said. “We had several good pitchers who went on and pitched at the Division I level. . . It was great working with all of those kids.”
All of those players helped Clarke become the section’s winningest softball coach with a record of 732-256-5. He’s also third on the state’s all-time wins list.
Clarke’s teams won four section championships in 1981,1995, 2000 and 2001.
Before that, however, it started in 1978, when Clarke first joined the Falcons’ coaching staff.
“I want to acknowledge (former Fairfield athletic director) Ron Thompson,” Clarke said. “He was the guy who first hired me back when I first started. I want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to coach at Fairfield High.”
Clarke said teaching the game was a reward in itself, watching his players grow and develop.
“That’s what coaching is. You teach them a skill and see it come to fruition in a game, that’s the point of coaching,” he said.
All that coaching resulted in some gaudy numbers aside from the 732 wins.
Clarke’s teams reached the postseason 16 times and won 15 league titles. His Falcons recorded 16 20-win seasons, six 30-win seasons and recorded eight section finals appearances.
Since the end of his career at Fairfield, Clarke has been happy to spend his time working with his 7-year-old great-grandaughter.
“If she shows an interest I probably will follow her until I can’t follow her anymore,” Clarke said. “I coached her mother – my granddaughter – too.”
As for today’s ceremony, Clarke said it’s nice to be acknowledged.
“It’s a great honor being recognized for all those years at Fairfield High and the success we had there,” he said. “It’s just great.”