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 Florida League Announces Coaches & General Managers

As the Florida League enters its tenth season, all six teams have come to terms with their head coaches and general managers. This year’s crop includes four returning skippers and two new faces in the dugouts, as well as two new GMs.
 
College Park Freedom
Coach: Scotty Makarewicz
Florida League experience: 6 years
The Freedom may have moved from Orlando to College Park, but “Scotty Mak” will still be leading the team. Scotty is the longest tenured coach in the Florida League, having spent the past four seasons as the head man for the Orlando Mavericks/Freedom. He was also head coach of the champion Winter Park Diamond Dawgs during the League’s inaugural season in 2004. Coach Mak is regarded as a great player’s coach, bringing a positive attitude and instilling important values in all of his players.  Scotty was an All Big-Ten catcher at Michigan State and a former 6th round pick of the Houston Astros in 1989. He played in the minor leagues for ten years, including four seasons in AAA ball. He then went on to become a coach in the Astros organization, before retiring from pro baseball to focus on local baseball instruction.
GM: Jay Hatch
Florida League experience: 3 years
Jay enters his second season as GM of the Freedom in 2013. In his first year, he was able to increase attendance by 20% through various marketing ideas and promotions. Since moving to College Park only a few months ago, Jay has already established himself with the College Park Partnership and the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce and is working on sponsorships with multiple local businesses. He also serves as the marketing director for the Florida League.
 
DeLand Suns
Coach: Rick Hall
Florida League experience: 4 years
Coach Hall brings a veteran presence to the Suns as he enters his fourth year as head coach of the team. He won his first Florida League championship last season, defeating the Leesburg Lightning. It was the first championship in the team’s six-year history. Hall is a fiery coach who is known to bring out the best in his players and field a competitive team on a nightly basis. His baseball past includes playing at Berkshire Community College (MA) and Stetson University, where he finished 9th in the country in strikeouts during his junior year.  After an arm injury derailed his career, he became pitching coach for the Hatters and held the position for 18 years. He then went on to become head coach at Daytona Beach Community College, where he achieved a third place finish in the state in 1998. In the offseason, Coach Hall is Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Deland.
GM: Neil Wilson
Florida League experience: 1 year
Wilson takes over as the new GM for the Suns in2013. Though he is new to the position, he is more than familiar with the team and the DeLand community. He has been a season ticket holder since the team’s inception in 2009, and owns DeLand Computers, a computer repair shop located in downtown DeLand. He hopes to bring more fans to games this season, as well as get more local Volusia County businesses involved with the team.
 
Leesburg Lightning
Coach: Dave Therneau
Florida League experience: 3 years
Coach Therneau has had a tremendous start to his Florida League coaching career. In his first season as head man for Leesburg, in 2011, Therneau guided the team to a 29-12 record, finishing 4.5 games ahead of the 2nd place team while setting a record for most wins by a team in Florida League history. In 2012, he led the Lightning to the championship game, though they fell to the DeLand Suns.  Coach Therneau played his college ball at Navarro Junior College (TX) before transferring to Texas Tech, where he helped lead the Red Raiders to a Big 12 title in 1998. He was drafted in the 9th round by the Cincinnati Reds and reached AAA ball before an injury halted his playing career. He joined Embry-Riddle as pitching coach in 2007 and also serves as the school’s Athletic Academic Services Coordinator.  
GM: Bruce Ericson
Florida League experience: 7 years
Bruce has been the face of the Leesburg franchise since it began in 2007. As the team GM, Bruce routinely recruits dozens of local businesses to become sponsors every year. The Lightning have led the Florida League in attendance every year that they have been in the league. In 2012, they were one of the top 10 college summer teams in the country in terms of per game attendance. 
 
Orlando Monarchs
Coach: Kenny Norman
Florida League experience: 2 years
Coach Norman will return to the Monarchs for the second straight season, but it will be his first as head coach. Last year with the Monarchs, he helped lead the team to a 4th place finish in their inaugural campaign. Norman is from Sweetwater, TX where he excelled in both football and baseball. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 1989 draft by the Minnesota Twins, and he spent 6 years in their minorleague organization. He is currently an assistant coach at St. Petersburg College.
GM: Mark Popkin
Florida League experience: 2 years
Mr. Popkin will return to the Monarchs as general manager in 2013, after serving as a special team advisor in 2012. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Popkin recently moved Central Florida from Oregon. He is an integral part in both the growth of the Monarchs, as well as the growth of baseball amongst urban youth in the Orlando area. He and his wife recently had their first child, Hatcher.
 
Sanford River Rats
Coach: Ken Kelly
Florida League experience: 1 year
Though he is new to the Florida League, Coach Kelly is no stranger to baseball in the Central Florida area. Last season, he led the DeLand Cudas to the Futures League championship. He spent over ten years as head coach at Georgetown University in the 80s and 90s, setting multiple team records for wins and team offense. His son Thomas plays at Rollins College and will be a member of the River Rats in 2013.
GM: John Welton
Florida League experience: 3 years
John has immersed himself in the Sanford community since the beginning of his tenure as GM of the Rats in 2011. He is a member of the Sanford Chamber, and can usually be seen at almost all community events with his pal, Ralphie the River Rat. The team has set attendance records under his watch, and he has one Florida League championship (2011) to his credit. His son, Andrew, plays baseball at nearby Lake Mary Prep. John also owns and operates Hit N Run baseball, an indoor baseball facility located in Sanford.
 
Winter Park Diamond Dawgs
Coach: Kevin Davidson
Florida League experience:  5 years
Coach Davidson is entering his third year as head coach of the Diamond Dawgs and fifth overall in the Florida League. Last season, he led the Dawgs to a second place finish in the regular season, and set a handful of Florida League team records, including most stolen bases, highest batting average and most runs scored. For the second straight year, his team provided the league’s MVP (Michael Danner) and Cy Young winner (Evan Incinelli). His previous years in the league were spent as an assistant coach under Davey Johnson. “KD” was born in Fort Lauderdale and went to school at Rollins College. He was a 28th round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2002, and played six seasons in the organization, playing as high as AAA ball. He is currently a wealth strategist at UBS Financial, and he also coaches at Orangewood Christian School.
GM: Michael Elliott
Florida League experience: 1 year
Michael is a current management student and member of the DeVos Sports Business program at UCF. He was hired on the Florida League roster in January. While his main focus is to expand the Diamond Dawgs brand around Winter Park, he also serves as the League Executive Account Coordinator. Previous to his Florida League experience, Michael served 8 years in the Army with the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.  He and his wife Joanna have 3 kids, Nicholas, Samaya, and Michael Jr.  
  
 
 

The Florida Collegiate Summer League (Florida League) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that operates six teams in Central Florida. Founded in November, 2003, the Florida League provides a place in the Sunshine State for top college players to play pure wood bat baseball against top-level competition in a festive community atmosphere. The Florida League is one of ten leagues supported and partially funded by Major League Baseball and is one of ten leagues affiliated with the NACSB - an alliance of college summer wooden bat leagues that follow NCAA rules. The Florida League has been named one of the top leagues in the country by Baseball America.

 

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