SALEM - The Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame's 2013 Spirit of Salem Award recipient is Mark Zocolo of the Salem High School Athletic Booster Club.
He will be recognized Aug. 29 along with the Class of 2013-Karl Zellers, Jim "Moe" Meissner, Mike Stapleton, David Tkatch, and Amanda Ciotti-Ott - at the annual induction dinner and ceremony at the Salem Community Center.
The Spirit of Salem Award was established in 2010 to recognize individuals who have given back to the youth of Salem in a positive manner.
Zocolo's volunteer efforts with the Salem High School Athletic Booster Club have demonstrated his passion and love for Salem and for its young people.
In 1992, Zocolo's involvement was first encouraged by soccer coach Tom Wright as a way for Mark to give back to Salem High School while his children attended school and played sports. Yet, long after his children have graduated, Zocolo has remained steadfast in his service to the booster club.
During the last 21 years, Zocolo has made countless phone calls and spent innumerable hours selling ads for both the fall and winter sports programs.
He has ordered the trophies and plaques for the season ending banquets for all sports. He has also assisted in the purchase of uniforms, equipment, or whatever the athletic department may need.
The naturally humble Zocolo will be the first to credit the many other parents who have spent time helping with the booster club.
However, Zocolo's presence and leadership year in and year out have been stabilizing forces in the organization. He has served on the board for 21 years, acting as president during four of those years and as treasurer for 10 years.
Some of the many projects completed during Zocolo's tenure include increasing the content in the programs; adding "lifetime membership" status; helping to create a $1,000 scholarship to one senior boy and one senior girl; organizing fan appreciation night at both football and basketball games; working with Shepherd's Heart to manufacture wooden Reilly Stadium and Cabas Gymnasium replicas; selling programs and 50/50 tickets at hundreds of games; working numerous concession stands; and setting up a database for membership and advertiser lists.
When asked why he has continued with the Salem High School Athletic Booster Club for this long, his response was simple. It has allowed him to stay connected to the community, and it has been his way of giving back to the community and more importantly to the kids.
"It's been helpful to work with dedicated people along the way, not only parents, but athletic directors," Zocolo said. "I really enjoyed working with Ray Steffen. He was extremely supportive and a great partner."
Consistency has carried over into Mark Zocolo's personal life as well. He and his wife, Lynn, have been married for 39 years, and together they have two grown children, Kara and Ryan, and two grandsons.
Tickets for the induction dinner are $25 each, which includes dinner and beverage provided by the Catered Affair.
Reservations can be made at the Salem Community Center or by calling (330) 332-5885.