Friends and family gather to remember Ken Sparks

Ken Sparks (Source: Carson Newman)

MORRISTOWN (WVLT) –It was a tremendous turnout, as you might expect, to honor legendary head football coach Ken Sparks on Friday.
Wife Carol and the rest of the Sparks family received hundreds of family, friends and former players and fellow coaches who were touched by Coach Sparks through out the years.

Wife Carol and the rest of the Sparks family received hundreds of family, friends and former players and fellow coaches who were touched by Coach Sparks through out the years.

Yes, Sparks was incredible at his craft, finishing with the 5th most wins
among college football coaches, but it’s the way he won in the game of life which is what’s leaving a lasting legacy. His staying power and ability to relate to all those he met, is way the community came out in force on Friday to pay their respects.

It’s easy to be impressed by his accomplishments on the field, but as his wife Carol told my prior to the Celebration of Life Service at Manley baptist Church in Morristown, What Ken accomplished off the field was his true life mission, the rest was just his laboratory.

You often here about the bond that coach Sparks shared with his former players and coaches, well I spoke with several of them on Friday. David Needs told me, “He invested. A lot of people don’t know this, but the dress out list for each game he would literally go down the list and pray for each player before the game. He wanted to know who the complete roster was coming into camp so he could pray for each player before they got there. ”
Former player Chase Phillips added, “It was like father and son. He would chew you out and then build you up. He would call it like it is and then put his arm around you, and hug you and bring you in close and let you know he still loves you even though he just yelled at you.”

Once again, so many folks came through the reception line Friday during the 4 and a half hour visitation with the family. Among them, Sparks friend and NFL coaching legend Jerry Glanville who told me, ” I came in the last 2-3 years and talked to his team, got really close with him. I talked to him last week and he said, ‘Coach, I’m being tested.’ I said, ‘Coach, you’ll pass that test. You’ve passed them all.’ There’s not another coach in the history of football that walked with God the way he did, he’s number one.

Ken Sparks will be dearly missed, but never forgotten, leaving a blueprint for all who crossed paths with him to follow. Rest in Peace Coach!

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