SAU hires Sparks to lead women’s hoops

By: By Logan Martinez -
Yvette Sparks

LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University has hired Yvette Sparks to lead its women’s basketball program, the school announced this week.

Knights athletic director Glenn Batten confirmed the decision in a release Monday.

“I am pleased that coach Sparks will be joining St. Andrews University,” Batten said. “Her broad experience as a player, coach, teacher and administrator made her a great match for our program. She understands our commitment to the NAIA and character-driven intercollegiate athletics.”

Sparks joins the Lady Knights from Glencoe High School in Alabama, where she held the position of varsity girls’ basketball coach last season.

The Clearwater Christian College graduate has served time at Jacksonville State, Belmont, Edinboro and Valdosta State and was the head coach at another NAIA university, Malone, earlier in her career.

Sparks earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical education in 1994, and completed a Master’s degree in sports science from Valdosta State in 1998. She was a four-year letter winner in both basketball and volleyball.

Sparks takes over for former coach Brooke Johnson, who coached the team for two seasons and guided the Knights to a 16-14 record last year.

The Knights recorded its first winning season since 2007 in 2014-2015, and are projected to return leading scorer Tyesha McLean, who averaged 9.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game during her junior campaign.

Sparks began her collegiate coaching career as the assistant coach at Valdosta State from 1998-2001, where she helped lead the team to a Gulf South Conference East Division championship. She also acted as the interim head coach from 1999-2000.

At Malone, Sparks guided the program from 2001-03. She was awarded the East Region coach of the year in 2001-2002 after leading the program to a 24-7 record and NAIA tournament berth.

From 2003-2006 Sparks was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Edinboro, an NCAA Division II program from Pennsylvania. She helped the team secure a NCAA Division II tournament berth in 2005-2006.

Sparks’s next stop was at Belmont from 2006-2010, where she continued as a recruiting coordinator and assistant. The Bruins won an Atlantic Sun Conference title during her time on the staff.

After two seasons at Jacksonville State as a player development coach and recruiting assistant, Sparks signed on with Glencoe and paced the team to an area championship and the third round of the Alabama state tournament while winning county Coach of the Year.

Sparks is married to her husband, Jeff, and the couple has one daughter, Kara.

Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.

Yvette Sparks Sparks

By Logan Martinez