Veteran coach and athletic director Sam Sparks is back in the 63rd District.
Sparks confirmed that he has agreed to become interim athletic director at Greenup County on Thursday following the resignation of Matt Gilbert earlier this week. The school announced on Twitter that he will start working with teams and coaches in mid-June.
Sparks, a Lawrence County alum, has been an assistant softball coach with the Lady Bulldogs following his retirement in 2017 after a 32-year coaching and administrative career, including 17 years stint as the Russell AD. He was named the Kentucky Athletic Director of the Year for 2016-17.
“First and foremost, you miss the interaction with the student-athlete,” Sparks said. “A lot of people say you miss the adults that you work with, and I certainly did that, but seeing young people compete and grow, making their way through high school and athletics, I certainly miss that a lot.”
“I have been able to fill that role,” he added. “I have been helping coach softball with Kenny Horn. That has kept me involved with the student-athlete. The daily grind of watching those kids work, improve and work with their coaches, I did miss that.”
Sparks said when he got the call from Greenup County Superintendent Traysea Moresea and discussed her decision for the athletic program, he knew that he wanted to help out as the Musketeers prepare for a new school year.
“There was a lot of thought,” Sparks said. “It’s not just about me, even though our children are grown. My wife and I are a team and certainly, there was some consulting that went on there. After meeting with superintendent Moresea, there is no doubt that the vision she has for their school system and the athletic department is something I want to be a small part of and try to help get things going.”
Greenup County enters the fall with a new but experienced football coach in Zack Moore and two new basketball coaches. With the uncertainty around high school sports due to the ongoing health crisis, Sparks hopes his years as athletic director will be beneficial.
“With the hirings that have already taken place this spring, they’ve had some home run hires in both of their basketball positions,” Sparks said. “I know having a veteran football coach in coach Moore, there is a lot of upside going on down there. Then you throw in having to navigate whatever it’s going to look like with the COVID-19 restrictions, (Moresea) was excited about bringing someone in with a little experience, knowing people and knowing their way around.”
“It was a combination of a lot of things that made it appealing to me and she was receptive to some of the ideas that I had,” he continued. “After seeing the excitement she had for the things that were going on at Greenup County, it was an easy decision to make and help as an interim.”
Greenup County principal Jason Smith said school officials and coaches are looking forward to working with Sparks over the next few months.
“We are pleased that Sam has agreed to join our team in the interim as we begin the process of selecting our next AD,” Smith said in a text message. ”Sam's experience, expertise, & leadership are second to none. He is well respected state-wide as an outstanding AD & person.”
Sparks said the familiar surroundings also played a part in his decision, but it’s not something that he is interested in doing long term.
“I certainly want to help them get started and get the school year started,” Sparks said. “Then when they find the right person for a full-time, permanent AD, they can step right in and take over, however long it takes.”
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