By Gene Stanley/Correspondent
Barely a month after losing John Blackwell, Glencoe High School hired Yvette Sparks as its new girls basketball coach.
Sparks, who was hired at the July 23 Etowah County Board of Education meeting), inherits a program that was known under Blackwell as one of the best girls programs in the state. The Yellow Jackets won eight county championships, 10 area titles and participated in the Northeast Regional nine times during those 18 seasons. Glencoe reached the Final Four in 2009.
“I understand I’ve inherited a fabulous group of young ladies who love the game of basketball,” Sparks said. “I’m happy and very excited about getting girls who are basketball oriented and excited about the game of basketball.”
Blackwell led the Yellow Jackets to a 370-161 record and the team reached the postseason 15 times in 18 years.
“(Blackwell) did a great job of building up the program to the point that we had quite a few people interested in the position,” said Glencoe High principal Charlton Giles. “I’m very confident that Sparks will come in with a lot of energy. She has a very positive outlook, which I think will be contagious with our kids.
“She’ll be an asset to the school both on the basketball court and in the classroom. I called and checked everywhere she’d been (teaching and coaching), and she came with outstanding references.”
Sparks has been an assistant at Jacksonville State the last two seasons and she comes with a lot of college experience.
“She’s been coaching in college for the past 16 years, so it may be a little adjustment coming to high school,” Giles said. “But she was a terrific role model everywhere she’s been, and I think she’ll do an outstanding job with our girls in that regard. We’re looking forward to getting her started as quickly as possible.”
With a ton of college assistant experience, Sparks said she’s more than ready to be a head coach.
“Right out of college, I coached high school for two years,” she said. “And I was the head coach at Valdosta State and at an NAIA college (Malone College) in Ohio, but otherwise have been an assistant. I’m ready to be the one to call the timeouts and to call the plays.”
In those 16 seasons, Sparks has been at six different colleges in five states.
“I’ve been in the system long enough to have developed my own style of play,” she said. “I’m tired of having to move every few years and am ready to settle down. If I could retire at Glencoe, I’d be thrilled.”
Chris McCarthy contributed to this story.