Derek Sparks is the new head football coach at Garfield, becoming the school’s fifth mentor over the past five years.
He succeeds Mark Stewart, who resigned after one season for personal reasons, according to Eric McCurdy, executive director of athletics for Seattle Public Schools. Stewart, who also was head coach at Garfield in 1992 and ’93, had left a highly successful Meadowdale program to try to rivive Garfield. He was 87-29 in 13 seasons with the Mavericks.
Garfield finished 1-8 in each of the past three seasons and has been just 24-130 since joining KingCo 4A in the fall of 1997. But the Bulldogs return to the 3A Metro League for the coming school year, along with Ballard and Roosevelt.
Ed Haskins, Garfield athletic director, sent this up-beat press release about Sparks:
Derek Sparks was a high school gridiron superstar at southern California powerhouse, Mater Dei.
Heavily recruited, he chose Washington State University to further his education and continue his playing career. Coach Sparks also had a brief time in the NFL. After his playing career, Coach Sparks has been a successful Seattle businessman, high school career counselor, success/life coach, and community and youth advocate. We are proud to announce Derek Sparks as the new head football coach at Garfield High School.
Garfield High School prides itself in a rich tradition of excellence. Sparks’ extensive experience as an athlete, counselor, and his ability to inspire youth are the perfect combination for success in his new role.
The Seattle community agrees.
“One can read Derek’s book, Lessons of the Game, to understand his drive and his willingness to help move others forward. However, you can just spend five minutes talking to him to experience the authenticity of his persistence, grit and giving nature. Whether he is working with students, motivating communities or coaching. Derek goes above and beyond the call of duty,” says Angela R. Jones, Human Resource Director at Spokane Public Schools.
“Derek’s impressive professional contributions are complemented by his many philanthropic endeavors aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially high-risk, disengaged youth with multiple barriers to success. Derek has helped to alter the trajectory of many young people’s lives through high expectations, careful guidance and service as a role model for what is possible. Derek has an innate ability to relate to youth groups and motivate them to want more and become more. Derek skillfully uses that motivation to reinforce the importance of social and academic achievement which results in a “road map” for educational, professional and personal success,” added Trina Miller, Tech Prep and Workforce Development Director at Community Colleges of Spokane.
Sparks already has a motto for the program: “ALL IN.”
“We will need the student body, teachers, parents, alumni, community, and, of course, the players to be ‘ALL IN’ if we are going to be successful,” said Sparks as he overlooked the field he will soon be coaching on. “I have no doubt we can be successful. Garfield has already proven itself to be a school with a remarkable sports legacy. Now we just have to build a football legacy, and that new era begins today.”