Chris Sparks begins his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Valparaiso men’s basketball program in 2010-2011. Sparks previously played for the Crusaders from 1997-2000, becoming the eighth former player under Homer Drew to return as an assistant coach.
Sparks was inducted into the Valparaiso University Hall of Fame in 2009 as part of the 1997-1998 men’s basketball team that advanced to the Sweet 16. He was also recently recognized as one of the 150 most influential people in Valparaiso University’s 150 years, as part of the Sweet 16 squad.
With the Crusaders, Sparks assists with post and perimeter player development and recruiting. He also serves as the team’s academic supervisor and travel coordinator. Over his first three seasons, Valpo has won 46 games and earned a postseason berth, advancing to the quarterfinal round of the inaugural CBI.
Sparks arrived at Valpo coming off of a two-year head coaching stint for the Canterbury Rams of the New Zealand National Basketball League. In his time as head coach, Sparks was nominated as a Coach of the Year finalist by Basketball New Zealand in 2006. His responsibilities did not end with coaching, however, as he also had to work on recruiting both local and international players for the Rams. Sparks was also responsible for organizing clinics and marketing the organziation, and also ran Chris Sparks Basketball Camps throughout New Zealand.
During his time with the Rams, Sparks recruited and developed the 2006 NBL scoring champion, Dennis Trammell, on the lowest import budget in the league. He also recruited and developed four NBL top-10 Power Ranking players in his two seasons on the sidelines. Two more of his players received contracts in the Australian National League after their time with the Rams.
Sparks was head coach for the undefeated Athletes in Action team tour of Poland in May 2008. With only two days practice, the AIA team posted a 3-0 record with victories against the Polish Junior National and Silesian All-Star teams. The AIA tour team also was featured in the prestigious Polish National Coaches' clinic with over 300+ coaches from Poland and Europe. The team was comprised of players from Valpo, Baylor, Illinois, Drake, Creighton and Coastal Carolina.
Prior to his time in New Zealand, Sparks served from 2001-2005 as a volunteer assistant coach for Athletes in Action. Sparks also played on one of AIA’s international tour teams during the summer of 1998, playing against clubs in Croatia and Switzerland.
Sparks spent three seasons with the Crusader basketball team, during which Valpo made the NCAA Tournament on three occasions, including the Sweet 16 season of 1998. He was a part of two Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship squads and three Mid-Con Tournament championship teams. Sparks played his first two seasons at Vincennes University, helping the Blazers to a sixth place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament in 1997.
Sparks received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Vincennes in 1997 and graduated from Valparaiso with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 2000.