Manual’s athletic director, David Zuberer, announced on Monday that Jeff Sparks will replace coach Pendleton as the new girls basketball coach. Sparks is coming to Manual from rival Male, where he has been the girls basketball coach for the last three years. This past season, Sparks led his Male team to a 17-12 record, losing to Manual twice by a combined score of 108-60.
Since the girls basketball season ended, Zuberer has been searching for a new coach. “The first step was to identify a pool of potential candidates and he (Sparks) was one of them,” Zuberer said. Zuberer added that Sparks was definitely at the top of the list and he impressed him as the search continued. “A good bonus is how good of a teacher he is,” Zuberer added. Sparks will be teaching social studies when he comes to Manual.
Zuberer said they were looking for three main things in the candidates for the job. “We wanted someone with high character, someone who has experience at successful programs, and their style of play matches our up-tempo style,” Zuberer said. When it comes to success, Sparks knows what it feels like. He was an assistant coach for Sacred Heart when they won a state championship back in 2004, when Sacred Heart won their third state championship in a row.
Not only is Sparks coming from Male, but he graduated from another Manual rival. Sparks graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1997 before going to Bellarmine. After graduating from Bellarmine, he became a graduate assistant at the University. After his time at Bellarmine he was the head boys’ coach at Walden before leaving for Sacred Heart. He then spent time as an assistant at Sacred Heart and Male before becoming the Male head girls basketball coach.
After school on tuesday, Sparks met with his team to introduce himself and get to know his new players. “After playing against Manual for several years, I know what the expectations are and I don’t expect those to change,” Sparks said. The new coach talked a lot about how he knows they have the right players to win games and looks forward to coming in as coach. “Looking out at you all, I know we have a lot of pieces to win games,” Sparks said.
Coach Sparks hopes to get the Lady Crimsons back to the Sweet 16 next year, which would make it four years in a row for the Manual girls basketball team.