JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (release) -- Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks has been named Jefferson Countian of the Year by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
Sparks received the honor Saturday night at a banquet. He said he had no clue the honor was coming.
“When (the emcee) started reading off who the guy was, I started thinking, ‘Wow, me and this guy kind of share the same path,’” Sparks said with a chuckle. “I started getting suspicious when our illustrious athletic director started telling me that if I didn’t show up, he’d fire me.
“But the honor really touched my heart. I’m grateful to be a Jefferson Countian and to receive this honor.”
Sparks earned his 300th victory coaching the Carson-Newman football program in the Eagles’ opening game against Glenville State. He guided C-N to a 9-3 mark that included an appearance in the national quarterfinals against Valdosta State.
Sparks also saw three players named to all-America teams, including the Eagles seventh consensus all-American in center Kevin Day (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.).
But as much as the award is about Sparks’ accomplishments leading the Eagles on the field, the award also takes into account his involvement in civic and spiritual life in and around the county.
Sparks routinely helps out spreading the Word of the Lord at Manley Baptist Church and beyond in mission fields both at home and abroad. He is a highly sought after public speaker.
Always a man of faith, Sparks said he hopes the award helps him to better serve the Lord.
“If it gives me an opportunity to honor the Lord, I’m for it,” Sparks said. “If it has eternal significance and helps me encourage a bunch of people in this county who helped me raise two kids, I’m more than grateful for it.
“It’s a privilege to have been a Jefferson Countian for more than 40 years.”
Sparks will embark on his 34th season at the helm of the C-N football program in the fall.