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THE END OF AN ERA A tribute to Coach Spar Spar, We would like to thank you for the past 30+ years of service as Head Coach, Assistant Coach and Student Athlete at Central Washington University Men’s Basketball and to the community of which you have so honorably served. In a world of total dysfunction of Coaches, programs and teams, you are a true sports icon.  Thank you for all the wins that you brought to us but more importantly than wins - Thank you for all the young men’s lives you have touched with your leadership and commitment to seeing each and every one of your players succeed.  You are a true gentle giant in the sports arena and our hearts.  God bless you on your next venture and we look forward to your 400th win as a University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook. - Dan and Cindy Thompson* *The following people have taken their time to send greetings and encouragement to Greg Sparling. They tell the story of a man’s career (not yet completed) of which has he served with distinction. Enjoy!! Son: You have made me very, very proud to be your Father through the years. Thank You, Love Dad I’ve followed Coach the last 10 years and he is truly a good coach and an even better mentor to his players and staff.  Coach’s record speaks volumes for itself but does not give a picture of the true greatness of the person and coach he is.  My wife and I followed Coach this past year and truly learned the dedication and enormous amount of energy it takes to be a coach and run a program.   The amount of comments received on the road in regards to how professional his players and staff are is amazing.  He is the epitome of Mr. Wildcat.  Coach, I absolutely wish you the very best in your new journey at Alaska-Fairbanks.  You have my unwavering support.   Please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me for whatever your program needs. - Your brother and friend for life, Dan Thompson Spar took over as head coach my senior year after Gil passed away. I have blocked out a lot of what took place during that time because it is emotionally draining to even think about. I know Spar and his family helped G.E. out a lot during that time. That kind of act transcends sports and shows you that Spar has always put relationships first! Watching how Spar and the Wildcat family handled the tragic death of Gil made me a more empathetic, spiritual, and family oriented person! Spar you’re the man because G.E. became a man! Gil is looking down proud of what you have done for his boy and that’s really what it’s all about!! - Sincerely, Marc Callero P.S. You are still young...the best is yet to come! Dear Spar, we just want you to know how much your long-standing loyalty to the CWU basketball program has meant to us. We’ve enjoyed watching your great coaching relationship with the players over the years, and your skill at developing your players into fine student athletes. Anyone observing you in practice or during games can see the pride and concern you have for them. We are grateful for your outstanding career win-loss record, despite the lack of financial and policy support you have received from CWU. We wish you all the best as you go forward in your career, and hope you will stay in touch. - Gary and Judy Heesacker “What a blessing it was for me to work alongside Coach Spar during my time at CWU.  Not only a great coach, but also a great man and friend. Best wishes in your future endeavors big guy and thank you for all you’ve done for me and the CWU community.” Jeff Harada, Head Women’s Basketball coach Cal-State Fullerton When you think of athletics at CWU, not just basketball, you can’t help but picture coach Sparling.  What I like most about Spar is not just that he is a great coach, but he is an even better man.  Best wishes Spar! - Larry Usher Thank you Greg for your contribution and commitment to our community. You and your family have made a big impact on many that will be remembered for years to come. We wish you great success in your next endeavor. - Sincerely, Your Friends at Anderson Hay. - Mark T. Anderson, CEO / President, Anderson Hay & Grain Co., Inc. As the former athletic director at CWU I was privileged to work with Coach Greg Sparling. When I began my tenure there it became very clear who the coaches and staff turned to as their leader. “Spar”. was the ultimate Wildcat.  He bled Crimson and Black. If you had a social get together he was first to help cook burgers, clean up, whatever needed to be done . If he was in town he and his players made it a point to always attend other team’s games. He always put the Athletic program ahead of his personal needs and wants. He was respected and liked by most everyone.  Always available to talk at a service club, recruiting function, fundraisers or social events. He did all these selfless acts in addition to running a top notch basketball program through both NAIA and NCAA eras. He played at Central, he assisted there, he coached there.  He is Wildcat Athletics. - Jack Bishop, Former CWU Athletic Director

Coach Spar, Thank you for everything you have done for Central Washington University, the CWU Athletic Department and your student athletes. You have lead with high character and integrity and have served as a positive role model and mentor to so many CWU alumni across the country. What a deep impact you have made on so many lives through the course of your career! The relationship you were able to foster with our local community was unprecedented and greatly appreciated by the business community. We wish you all the best in your next adventure. Go get that 400th win! - PJ and Tami Bugni “Spar has outstanding people skills and has no doubt positively influenced countless young men over his career. I’ll always remember that he was the first 4-year coach who reached out to me upon my hiring at YVC in 2005.” - Ray Funk Thank you for 29 years of fun watching you play and coach for CWU. We’ve seen a lot of WINS, watched our kids grow up together in the gym, and made a lot of great memories! - Steve & Anne Sparling and family It has been my great privilege to work with coach Sparling over the last 25 plus years... great person...great coach...loyal friend...I wish him the best of luck moving forward and I will definitely be in touch. - Jeff Reinland, athletic director/head men’s basketball coach, Walla Walla Community College I was fortunate as a young coach to spend three years working with coach Spar at CWU. During those three years we made the NCAA tournament all three seasons. Coach Spar is one of the most genuine people I have met in the coaching business. Since I have left CWU and became a high school head coach and director of AAU programs I have stayed close with coach and helped him recruit players.  This year during the season I brought my family 12 year old boy, and twin babies to the game, coach Spar took time to take a pic after the game with my family, which displayed what type of man Coach Spar is. He is a genuinely good man, who cares about those who have been involved with him and the program. I wish the best of luck to coach Spar moving forward at Fairbanks Alaska! although I am a Wildcat at heart, I will now be pulling for the Nooks as well! - Jason Buffum , Physical Education and Health Teacher, Varsity Boys Basketball, Middle School Track, Middle School Volleyball, Go Spuds! “For the past 28 years that I’ve known my uncle, he has had two passions in life: His family and coaching. For 28 years he has gone above and beyond for his players, community, and family. I know he has touched many lives through his service in Ellensburg; the community is a better place because of him...... Uncle Greg, I speak for the whole Grizwald clan when I say, we are so proud of you and we love you!” - Kate (Sparling) Luttrell Thank you Spar! For the great experience, memories and life lessons, ups and downs, tears of frustration and joy! All the best to you. - Jay Thomas, MfG Spar-I owe a lot to you, 5 years of memories that I will hold onto for life, not to mention all the friends. I wouldn’t be the man or the career I do if it wasn’t for the time I spent with you. Can’t wait for the book release, looking forward to watching your new adventure. -Ted Nelson “Spar created a program where everyone felt like family.  22 years removed from playing, I know I could still call him and he would be willing to assist in any way he could.  Once a Wildcat always a Wildcat!” - Keith Hennig, Principal, Skyline High School “Thank you Coach Spar for everything you have done for the players, community and the fans!  Your dedication and determination to a basketball program that the whole community got behind will be greatly missed. However, your next adventure will give us the opportunity to see you continue to do what you love. We will be watching and cheering you on as you change the lives of even more athletes. - The Pernaa Family


“I first met Greg when he arrived at CWU as a student-athlete and I had the opportunity to watch him develop into a very important member of the Wildcat men’s basketball team. He was a selfless leader and a great teammate. Little did I know that was only the beginning. I then saw him develop into an exceptional coach, in terms of preparation, strategy, and the myriad of intricacies college coaching involves. More importantly, he proved to be an amazing advocate and role model for and to his players. Ensuring they took full advantage of their college experiences and graduated from CWU was preeminent for Coach Spar. While that was fundamental to him, it was no more imperative than the great love he showed (and continues to show) to his wife and sons, and the devotion he demonstrated to the university and throughout our community. He is a true and valued friend to me, and I am proud to be able to call him that. And I always will.” - Robert Lowery, former longtime radio play-by-play Voice of the CWU Wildcats I have known Greg for a long time as we started our coaching careers at the same time and I feel fortunate to call him my friend. He beat us my second year to go to the National Championship Tournament. He has shown the ability to coach and win games but that doesn’t mean crap…what matters is the lives he has touched, changed, and the people he has helped grow into productive citizens. Greg coaches basketball but he teaches life and that is bigger than basketball.  Players inviting him to their weddings, bringing their children by to see the coach they played for.  This is the true measure of a coach that has had a career as long as Greg Sparling, a true gentleman. Scott Clark, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, TRU Athletics “Spar, you are a true friend and a great man.  I deeply value and appreciate your warmth, compassion and loyalty!” - Jason Dudley, Ms, Cscs, *D, Tsac-F, *D Director of strength and conditioning, Washington State University Athletics Spar, it was a great run and you will definitely be missed!! - Corey Rogers Coach Spar, Thanks for many years of exciting basketball at CWU. You made a difference in many student-athletes lives. Best of luck! - Jeff and Diane Ellersick Greg Sparling is a fantastic basketball coach and leader (ask his players) and a wonderful husband and father (ask his family), because he’s simply a great person. I’m honored to know this CWU and Ellensburg legend, and to call him my friend. - Doug Crandall His basketball teams represented him as a player, hard working, fundamentally sound and disciplined. was a big impact not only with CWU but with the community too. Larry Cade “I’ve known Coach Sparling for 30 years. We played against each other in college and he has recruited my players to CWU. He exemplifies what coaching is about. He is a humble man of integrity and sincerity who truly cares about the long term best interests of his players. He is a great family man and I look forward to watching his next institution benefit from what he does to develop young men.” - Che Dawson “Coach Sparling brought me to campus almost 20 years ago. The alumni before and after me had the good fortune and incentive of staying close with the team and university not just because of his long tenure but also because he became a friend. He enriched the collegiate experience for me and I am forever grateful I chose Central. - Carson Payne, class of 2001 “Congrats to Coach Spar, one of the best people in our coaching profession with history of success, Fairbanks is very fortunate to get a coach of this caliber” - Carl Howell friend and coach I was the head athletic trainer at CWU from 2001-2008.  I have also worked under hall of fame coaches Ralph Miller at Oregon State and National Coach of the year Don Monson at the University of Idaho.  Greg Sparling is in this group as far as his dedication to the game of basketball and his ability to relate to his players. Greg is a man of incredible integrity and I know of no coach who works harder to not just recruit and coach his players, but really cares for them as individuals. I wish him the best of everything in his new position at Alaska-Fairbanks. It will be strange watching him coach from the visitors bench  and I know his team will be prepared and ready to play when they come to Nicholson Pavilion.  He is a great coach and even a better person, who has always done things “the right way. - Ken Kladnik Coach Sparling, Thank you for believing in and giving me a chance. It started as a player when I left Seattle U and I was looking for a fresh start. I found a home in your program. There was a feeling of being welcomed as soon as I stepped on campus. That year ended up being the best of basketball in my career. Next, you gave me a chance in coaching. After coaching one year of high school basketball you offered me a volunteer coaching position. Then you gave me the Head Assistant position with only one year of volunteer experience, and eventually became Associate Head Coach. All of these opportunities would not have happened without your belief in me, and words cannot explain how much I appreciate that. Best of luck! - Drew Harris, Former Asst Coach CWU Men’s Basketball Coach Spar, I can’t put into words how happy I am for you and your family on this new adventure. I want to thank you for all that you provided as my head coach. It was an honor sharing the court and sitting on your bench as an assistant coach these past 5 years. More than that, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Best wishes up north! Let the horses run! - Jared “Jbone” Johnson, Former Asst Coach CWU Men’s Basketball It is my pleasure to know Coach Spar for over 25 years. In my many trips to Ellensburg over the years it was always great to see him. He always took a sincere interest in how I was doing and took time to keep me updated on Wildcat basketball. His friendship is something I hold dear. - Stephen Hertling When I see Coach Spar he is always the same, happy-go-lucky and sincere.  We consider Greg, Kristin, Coleman, and Jake family.  What a loss for our basketball community.  Best of luck Spar! - Katherine Malcolm I truly enjoyed watching Coach Spar when he played for Central, playing city league together, having him as a guest speaker at my Future Warrior basketball camp, supporting the CWU basketball program, and being his friend all these years.  I wish you all the best Spar! - Scott Malcolm

Coach Spar has been a good friend and a dandy coach. He has been a great representative for CWU and a super positive role model in his player’s lives. He has been a great recruiter and he can get kids to play extremely hard. He has had some outstanding teams at CWU and you always knew you were in a dogfight when you played the Wildcats. He passed his deep competitive spirit on to his players. And my final words to you COACH ... having fished with you on the Gulkana River in Alaska...you are a darn good king salmon fisherman too. Love you big fella. - Tim Hills your coaching and fishing buddy I am proud to state that Greg has been the type of basketball coach who has never relied on hype or rhetoric, but the type of coach who relies upon hard work, plus building personal relationships with his players and members of the community.  One can certainly count on Greg rolling up his sleeves and initiating the work of building a skilled team wherever he chooses to coach. A team with athletes that are committed to the program, and are also committed to the task of development of their own person character and value system. I am most certain Coach Spar will move forward with that deep passion for basketball, his athletes  his family and the community that supports his team.  Greg, I am proud to say, you always be a Wildcat in my memory book of life. - Dick Hickman CWU Alumni The Sparlings, it’s hard to imagine Ellensburg without all of you! Best of luck on your new adventure!  Thanks for all you’ve done for the community, you will be truly missed. - Ron and Lily England Spar thanks for being a great mentor and for giving me my start in college coaching. Wish you nothing but the best! - Tyler Geving Ex Portland State Head Coach Greg’s legacy reaches back to the days of the iconic legendary coach “Nick,” who gave so much to so many of us. Spar has done his best to hold true to the “Central-Basketball” blue-collar, small-town values CWU embraces, while still keeping up with the everevolving styles of today’s game. Spar managed to stay in one place for multiple decades in the cut-throat arena of collegiate athletics . . . a feat not accomplished by many in this day and age. For this, he should be highly commended. Greg and I go back to the early days of his CWU hoop camp when it was mostly class B, and A schools from the east side, and it has been an honor to call him a friend. - Nick Brown, CWU 87-9, Head Boys Basketball Coach Arlington High School “Coach Spar- thank you to you and your family for all you have contributed to CWU and the Ellensburg community, and for bringing my brother and I into the Wildcat family. Sending you best wishes as you embark on a new journey.” - Troy Nealey, CWU basketball 1999-2002 Coach, Thanks for all you have done for Central!  More importantly I appreciate what you have for me personally!  Boom Boom!!! Best of luck at Fairbanks!!! - Colton Monti (2005-2009) Coach Sparling, your influence in Ellensburg and CWU is respected.  It’s been a pleasure watching you and your family become a part of our community. - Neil & Gail O’Neill When I think of Spar, two words come to mind:  passion and commitment.  Thanks Spar for all you’ve done for the myriad of players, fans, and your community.  I’m proud to call you my friend. - Coach Brad Jackson, WWU Head Basketball Coach-Retired Spar, thanks for being such a great role model and positive influence to everyone you have come in contact with. So many great memories! - Donovan Smith Coach Spar, Thank you for your many years of helping student-athletes continue their dreams of playing basketball and helping them get an education. You have impacted many lives and I wish you and your family the best in the next chapter. - Carla Wellons “Competitive, kind and unassuming, devoid of ego yet well respected and possessing genuine compassion for his players, the game, the university, and the community not simply as a means to an end, are only a few qualities describing my best friend & teammate, Spar.” - Isaac “Ike” Alvear Thanks for all the years and your dedication Coach Sparling. May your future be even more satisfying. - Kathy Lund Coach Spar has  been like family to since I was a kid and from the moment I decided to go to CWU he was always there for me for whatever I needed. And I’ve always known him to be type of guy to help someone any way he can. Good luck on your next steps and Excited to see you continue as a great coach and man. - Connor C. Howell Even though I was never a player of yours, thank you for all the life lessons on and off the court throughout the years you’ve been a part of my life! You have truly touched our lives and our community more than you will ever know. My wife and I wish you and your family nothing but the best in your next venture! Thank You, - Charlie and Ashley Simpson From Fife players and coaches of the past 19 years, thank you for the team camps that have helped create our success. You are missed. - Mark Schelbert, Fife Basketball Congratulations on a great career.  Making it as long as he did in a career full of critics, watching and analyzing every move, is pretty special. Central is a special place with a great basketball tradition. I’m proud to be a part of Central basketball and I know Coach Spar is too. What I realized when I got to Central was that the basketball team was a family.  Coach Gil Coleman was sick my freshman year (‘95), and Spar and Alby (Jeff Albrecht) ran things just like normal business. They took care of the basketball team and kept Gil’s young son involved in the program as much as they could.  After coach passed, Spar was named interim head coach and continued the program in the way he’d learned from Coach Gil and Coach Dean Nicholson.  He recruited guys that were similar in personalities, who once were on campus together, naturally became family. I believe our closeness had a lot to do with our success. We were friends on and off the court. In both Spar’s 2nd and 3rd seasons as head coach, we were able to make it to the top 8 at the national tournament. 20+ years have passed and those guys are still my best friends. We talk regularly, and we still stay in contact with each other and our coaches, Coach Spar and Coach Burns. I appreciate the memories that I made at Central, especially Central Basketball, with Spar in charge.  He is a great guy with a great big heart.  Thank you Coach Spar for all you’ve done for Central Washington Basketball and Central Washington University. - Grady Fallon, CWU Basketball ‘95-’98


Spar wasn’t just inspirational to his basketball players, but to all student-athletes. He always made a point to compliment my work ethic and he took time to invest in me as a person and an athlete; I appreciated him. Spar was a huge part of the athletic program at CWU for many years and I know his presence will be greatly missed by many. He is a great coach and person. Thank you, - Alicen Potucek (Maier) “Playing at Central was a great experience simply because Coach Spar kept a tradition of making every incoming player apart of the wildcat family and from day one treated you like his favorite son!” - R-Jay Barsh, Head Basketball Coach , Lakeland Florida I coached for and learned from Spar for 2 years, then coached against him for 11 more years.  He was extremely loyal to Central, helped his players to graduate, become better men and ran a very good program.  He is a good man, a great friend and a damn good coach. - Keith Cooper Coach Spar is synonymous with basketball and there are some incredible memories on the court. However, Spar is an uncompromising supporter and fan of his friends. He’s the loudest at softball and football games, and I see him working the chutes at roping events. He loves our local business owners. He proudly tells stories of not only his former players and teammates, but of friends who might have nothing to do with basketball. Spar is a tall dude, but his love for his friends and community is even bigger. That’s the Spar I know. Employers and mascots may change, but Spar is the same rock. - Jon Guddat, longtime Coach Sparling friend and fan Thank you 24 outstanding years leading the CWU basketball program. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. - Nalin Sood, Executive Director, Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association. President, National High School Basketball Coaches Association. Coach Sparling is a man of integrity, honesty and loyalty. I’m honored to call him a friend and wish him nothing but future success! - Andy Sears, Head Basketball Coach, Vashon Island Coach Spar always went the extra mile to help me and prepare me for life on and off the court and for that I can never repay him, I am forever grateful and will always support him and his family! Best of wishes on your future endeavors coach! I know you will do great things! - Mark McLaughlin CWU Alumni We can’t say enough good things about the Sparling Family. We know that next to every great leader is a great partner.  We thank you Kristen and Greg for your years of service, leadership and love you brought to our community and our family.  We wish you nothing but the best in the future.  May the lord bless you and your family always. - Love the Berthon-Koch’s I’m proud to have coached Coach Spar. Wasn’t the best player to have ever played for me but did all the dirty work. Glad to have known him and best of luck in his new venture. - Coach Dean Nicholson I’ve known Coach Sparling since I tried to recruit him out of Juanita High School. I sent a number of players up to play for Spar at Central. Coach Spar is an honest, standup family man. He always had his players best interest at heart. Fired for what! Come back with the Nanooks and kick ass! - Keith Kingsbury Former Coach at Edmonds. Coach Spar, Congratulations on a great stint at CWU I’m sure success will follow you where ever you chose to take your coaching talents.  I can’t express enough appreciation to you for your friendship and respect, excepting me into the coaching fraternity. I will always look back and value those times.  Talking hoops before games, scouting games, and especially after games.  Look forward to following you and your next team. With appreciation and respect. - Carl Nicholes, Assistant coach Edmonds C.C. Being part of the Athletic family I’ve had the opportunity to not Only  watch Greg as a C.W.U. player but watch him during his coaching career at C.W.U. My memories of Greg which I have known him the last 33 years will always be how he had the passion for basketball and he instilled the work ethic in all of his basketball players to have respect for their surroundings around them and the people. I will always cherish Greg’s family as I have watched Greg grow in the years to become a Great Coach and a Great Father.. Wish the best for you Greg in what ever way your life takes you. Thanks Greg for being you. - Teresa Miller Central Washington University Equipment Manager ‘Spar, words can’t express how thankful I am to have been part of so many road trips and shoot arounds, that were filled with funny stories and life lessons. You unequivocally enriched my college experience, and my life. Thanks Big Donker! - Sprink “I came to CWU to play ball, and I left Ellensburg as a better man. Coach Spar showed us how to be fathers, husbands, mentors and leaders of men. He will be greatly missed, but will always be a part of our family! Best wishes coach!” - Arvin “Chris” Mosley. Class of 1998. My family and I will always remember, and miss, Coach Sparling’s gracious smile when randomly running into him throughout the Ellensburg Community. Coach Spar, always remembered our children’s name’s, as well as generally interested in whatever activity our kids were involved in at the time. Lastly, his witty oneliners were always funny! Go, Coach Spar! - Craig & Rhonda Leishman Coach Spar was not only a great coach, but a great example. He taught me the importance and balance between basketball and family. - Roby Clyde We wish you the best of success in your future endeavors Greg! We will sincerely miss you! - Love, Jason and Brooke Walker I am proud to state that Greg has been the type of basketball coach who has never relied on hype or rhetoric, but the type of coach who relies upon hard work, plus building personal relationships with his players and members of the community.  One can certainly count on Greg rolling up his sleeves and initiating the work of building a skilled team wherever he chooses to coach. A team with athletes that are committed to the program, and are also committed to the task of development of their own person character and value system. I am most certain Coach Spar will move forward with that deep passion for basketball, his athletes,  his family and the community that supports his team.  Greg, I am proud to say, you always be a Wildcat in my memory book of life. - Dick Hickman

“Friend, former roommate, coach...Greg and I go way back. I am sad he’s no longer here at Central. He’s done a lot for the basketball program! He will always be family to me! We wish him only the best!!” - Wade Venters and family “Coach Sparling was a player’s coach. I can go some time without speaking to him and when I do it’s like we have been talking every day! He is great supporter, great motivator, great father, great husband, but most importantly a great human being with a heart of GOLD.” - Gabriel Ladd (2000-2001) Greg, Wishing you all the success as you move on to your next opportunity. You’ve had a good run at CWU. When I think of CWU, I think of Sparling, and when I think of Sparling, I think of CWU. It’ll be different, but without a doubt you’ll continue to have success wherever you choose to go. - Your friend, Craig Tornga Greg, you are the epitome of what it means to be loyal. Thank You for 25+ years of meaningful friendship and may the very best come to you and your family in all your future endeavors. - David (Fiske) Coach Spar is a gentle giant. A humble man who has made CWU men’s basketball the success that it is today. Whenever I’ve walked into the gym at CWU, it felt like a home, complete with family & friends. Coach made it a point to make everyone feel welcome and that they were a part of his program no matter what the age or where they were from. He’s not only a friend to our family, but he’s a like a second dad to my son (who has been best friends with Coleman since elementary school). Coach Spar has played the role of coach, father, brother and counselor to hundreds, if not thousands of young men who’ve been lucky enough to have crossed paths with him. He’s always been willing to give those who may be a little “rough around the edges” an opportunity of a lifetime to play, where other coaches may never have looked their way. He demands respect, but gives it back in return. He encourages everyone to do their best and would give the shirt off his back if anyone needed it.  Thank you Coach Spar for giving your everything to make our community a place that we can be proud of.  You will be sincerely missed, but never forgotten. - Julie Kjorsvik What a coach. What a wonderful record of accomplishments. Many know this is a man who is committed to his players, coaches, fans and family.  It was always a thrill to see his teams come to Olympia to play the always challenging St. Martins team. Good luck coach, we wish you well. - Robert & Vicki Dauenhauer I have known Greg for 30 years and can say one thing for sure, and that is he was always there to help however he could. I remember the first time I asked him to help, was with coaching an 8th grade girls AAU basketball team back in the late 80s. He said yes. Then, later after he became head coach, I again asked him to help set up the Nicholson Scholarship fund. He said yes. And later, we needed help to move my daughter, and I asked for help. He said yes. And most recently, we needed transportation to and from Seattle for a medical appointment, Again, he and family said yes. You could always count on their help. Thank you so much for being there to help when needed. His help has extended beyond the  ball players and into the community. I am sure our experience echos only a small part of how many Greg and family have helped. We only wish the best for him and family regardless of what the future holds. - Roland & Jacque Tollefson “Best of luck to Coach Spar in his next endeavor. It was great getting to know him over the years since my freshman year at central. He will be a huge asset in his next venture.” - Best Regards, Chris James Sparling welcomed me to CWU with open arms and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play basketball for the Wildcats. - Lance Den Boer Coach Spar was not only a great coach, but a great example. He taught me the importance and balance between basketball and family. - Roby Clyde Our family always looked forward to the CWU basketball season! Not only did we enjoy watching Coleman play but watching his dad Coach was THE BEST! He was always very energetic, emotional, exciting and just showed a passion for his players and the game of basketball. We are truly going to miss him on the court and the basketball games will never be the same to watch!! - Jessica Bacon The experience I had working with Coach Sparling while I was a student at Central Washington laid the foundation for the rest of my career. He was supportive and understanding and I wouldn’t have had the success I have had in my career without his guidance and support. I will be forever grateful for his mentorship and friendship. Thanks, - Rob Scheidegger LAT, Assistant Athletic Director for Medical Services – Head Athletic Trainer Washington Huskies As a proud Central Washington University graduate, I would like to publicly thank Greg Sparling for his 23 years of distinguished service as the Wildcats’ men’s basketball coach. I got to know Greg during his early days after he succeeded the late Gil Coleman, then became much more familiar with him after moving to Yakima from Bremerton in 1997, and covering the Wildcats for 20 years with the Yakima Herald-Republic. During a 43-year career in sports journalism I encountered few coaches, at any level, who ran their programs with the integrity Sparling exhibited while at Central. To his players, he was a person who could be trusted to put their personal interests ahead of simply winning and losing, guiding them through the perils of young adulthood and ensuring that the overwhelming majority would get their degrees. To me, Greg became a trusted friend who could be relied on for postgame phone calls and vital and honest information -- win or lose, home or away. Several calls came from Fairbanks, Alaska, where he called while seeking postgame food for his players in temperatures of minus-35 degrees or colder. Greg put his heart and soul into Central, first playing for Dean Nicholson before starting his coaching career and his family. After Sparling had worked his way through a rough patch during the early 2000s, longtime Western Washington coach Brad Jackson said after a CWU victory over its rival in Nicholson Pavilion, “Obviously, I wish we’d won the game tonight. But also it’s good to that Spar’s got it going again. He’s one of the good guys.” - Roger Underwood A good man who has helped many a young man along the way. - A.J. Webb Greg, I enjoyed watching you while you played for CWU and later while you coached the Wildcats.  Thanks for giving us something to CHEER about! - Kathey Hatfield


Your commitment and support as a coach, friend and teacher has been a blessing to many students at Central. Thank you for giving my sons the opportunity to be a part of your basketball program. That experience was an integral part of their Central education. It was always great to know that they had you and your whole family there for them. Your kindness, watchful eye and mentoring gave me, their mom, great comfort. Thank you so much. - Kerry Webb

Feel proud of the mark you left on our community. We’ll be rooting for you in your next opportunity! - Jeff & Mandy Ravet

“Thank you to a man who has represented CWU Basketball, the Ellensburg community, and his family as a first-class individual for more than a quarter century!! You are a great friend and we wish you the absolute best, Greg!!” - Jonathan Gordon Congratulations on an amazing run, Coach! Thank you for allowing me to come out there and be a part of the Central Family, meeting many amazing people making friendships for life. Best of luck to you and your family in the future. - Much love from Germany, Tobi Stroll #Wildcats Greg Sparling was a tremendous mentor for me during my years as a player and as a coach at Central. I always respected him as he coached with dignity, honesty and integrity. He had high expectations for his players on the court but more importantly, in real life. There is an immeasurable amount of men surviving and succeeding in this crazy world thanks to the love and commitment that Greg demonstrated over all those years. - Karla Devries (Hawes) “Thanks for everything you’ve done for me Coach. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.” Grant Assink, Class of 2007. Before covering Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez, three Super Bowls, a Final Four and a U.S. Open, I reported on the CWU basketball team for the The Observer in 2007-08. Even though I was just a measly student reporter and editor at the time, coach Sparling took the time to meet with me after every game I covered. It was an invaluable experience for me to pull from when I began covering Seattle sports in learning how to develop a relationship with people you report on. Thanks for treating me like I was Peter King or Sam Farmer when I was anything but. Good luck with your next endeavor! - Curtis Crabtree, Sports Reporter, Sports Radio 950 KJR, Seattle, Wash. Coach Sparling was a great coach who supported me as a young assistant coach and then as a young Head Coach at the collegiate level giving me words of encouragement. I always appreciated his support and friendship as a young coach! Wishing you continued success coach Spar!! - Mitch Freeman- Current Head Coach at Corban University Former assistant at Seattle U, Cal Poly, & head coach at Peninsula College.  “I had the honor to attend college with Greg and watch him play basketball with passion, integrity and the spirit to always help his teammates be successful.  Greg carried these values to his college coaching profession and as a result he is lauded as a coach who has created a loyal community of players, coaches, families and helped many reach their true potential.”  Darci Kleindl, Friend, Thank you. - Darci Kleindl, GM NA Partner at AWS My name is Dominique Hunter. I graduated from Central Washington University in 2017, and played under former head coach Greg Sparling. Words can’t explain or describe the heart and the love Spar has for his family, kids, and players. He became a big part of my life and became a father figure. He will do anything for his players and fights for us through thick and thin. Spar is one of the most all around loyal people that I know in my life. He’s changed the culture and made his mark on Central. I talk with him till this day, and he hasn’t changed a bit. Still the same Big Show. I love ya man! Go Nooks! Coach Spar, Thanks for everything over the years.  Not only for giving me a chance to play basketball at Central, but for being someone you know you can always count on.  It was an honor to play for you and get to know you and your family while I was there.  You can easily see why the community there loved you.  You represented the school and the program with nothing but class.  It definitely will not be the same going to a game and not seeing you roam the sidelines.  The time and passion you invested in that program will never be forgotten by any of your former players.  I had such a great time while I was at Central and you were one of the main reasons for that.  You always allowed us to have fun and enjoy playing the game.  Wherever your next adventure takes you, I wish you all the best.  You will always be a wildcat and hopefully one day when you are able to get back to see a Central game you will understand how much you meant to the program and community.  - Johnny Spevak / CWU Alumni I’ve been heading over to Eburg for almost 30 years to follow my brother Greg and the Wildcats. He is not only a great brother , great basketball coach but he truly cares about the students and student-athletes at CWU. Greg is a true part of the Ellensburg community. I look forward to following Greg to many more basketball games, too bad a terrible decision has him coaching elsewhere. Good Luck Greg! - Don Sparling It is sad that an end of an era has come to our community with the Central Basketball Program losing its head coach of so many years.  Coach Greg Sparling has been a presence in the community both on and off the court.  My boys played High School Ball and it was a thrill to attend the summer camps here with Coach Sparling observing and giving pointers at the games.  I would like to personally thank him for all that he has done and meant to our valley and wish him the best in his future endeavors. - Marlene Pfeifer

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Greg is a great, sincere, kind person that would do anything for anybody. He is loyal to his friends and players.  He is a very good family man.  He has an awesome dad and late mother that instilled a lot of great qualities in him and he stands by those qualities.  His new team is very, very lucky to have him.  He does a lot of things on and off the court that have huge impacts on a team’s success as well as the development of great  young men.  Greg values making an impact on these young men’s lives as much as he does wins.  He achieves both.  Sam Spiller, childhood friend, HS teammate, lifetime friend. - Sam Spiller, Business Development,

Thank you Spar. You have been a coach, a team mate and, most of all, a friend. Thank you for all you have done for Central, the program and its players. You are a stellar individual and I am proud to call you my friend. Cheers! Your fellow ‘bruise brother’, - Big O. Otto Pijpker “Coach Sparling truly cared about his players. He not only took a chance on giving me a chance to play basketball after a few years off, but also helped me land my first job in corporate America” - Jason Littleton, 1999 - 2001 It is remarkable to think about the impact Spar has had on Ellensburg, Central Washington University, the players he has coached and the coaches he has encountered, including me. I thoroughly enjoyed every interaction I have ever had with Spar. I will miss not getting the opportunity to see him across the sideline from me. Every time we played Central, we knew we had to bring it because every team Spar coached did just that. He is a great coach and even better person. I wish him luck in the future and wherever he ends up will be lucky to have him. - Jamie Stevens (MSUB Head Coach 2011-2017), Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Northern State University Greg Sparling was a tremendous mentor for me during my years as a player and as a coach at Central. I always respected him as he coached with dignity, honesty and integrity. He had high expectations for his players on the court but more importantly, in real life. There is an immeasurable amount of men surviving and succeeding in this crazy world thanks to the love and commitment that Greg demonstrated over all those years. - Karla Devries (Hawes) Spar, thank you for never once telling me what plays or defense I should have been running as I coached Jake over the years. You certainly had plenty you could have offered for advice but chose to support your son and me no matter how things went. I appreciate that. Best of luck up there! - Rob Moffat Coach Spar, The Humboldt State versus Central Washington University rivalry was thriving when Spar went head-to-head in GNAC and post season NCAA tournament play. Central Washington knocked down #1 in the nation Humboldt state in 2004. In another classic HSU beat CWU in a double overtime game in 2007. The 2010–11 season was a highlight for Coach Spar and myself. The hospitality that Coach and Central Washington provided goes down as the most memorable in regional history over the last 20 years. The western theme and coaches dancing country style at the NCAA regional tournament banquet were the best moments that we will never forget! One of the most competitive coaches and well respected in the business, Coach Spar also provided assistance around the region with numerous phone calls helping the younger coaches get into the profession. A true mentor. One of my all time favorite people and respected coaches ever! - Steve Kinder, Humboldt State Basketball Coach, thank you for all you have done over the years for this community and myself. You have been a positive influence on many young men and women in this town and for that, everyone is very grateful. - Matt Snell, Anderson Hay Coach Spar, Dan and I appreciated you allowing us the privilege to follow your Men’s Basketball Team to every game last season. It was truly an honor that we will never forget. The team that you, Drew and Jared put together was indeed a family and those boys included us. They will always hold a special place in our hearts. School after school we were stopped by fans of our opposing team and told how they enjoy playing the CWU Men’s Basketball Team because of the competitiveness, passion and respect that our players have for each other and the opposing team. This is because of your leadership! Coach! This is your legacy. The years you put into CWU and the development of players, mentor to coaches, above all mentor to young men and your beautiful family is a part of your long lasting amazing legacy. No one can take it away. The multiple letters from former players on how you taught them to be a better player, father, husband and man are testimony that long after material things are obsolete the positive influence you have made in their lives will continue in the lives of their families well after we all have passed away. Your family is dear to us because you are truly good people and should be recognized for your goodness as a family unit. Above all – Thanks for being you! Go Nanooks!! - Cindy Thompson, Wildcat Club Board Member Coach Wooden once said “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life”. You have done BOTH here that’s why you’ll always be coach Spar .. coach Knight probably said it best tho, “ when my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want that they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass”. - Tim Ravet “Greg was a integral part of my life. During 4 years as a player and 8 years as his assistant.  And I enjoyed every minute.  Over 2 decades of changing young men’s lives and teaching life lessons is more important than any win, which makes him a CWU legend in my book!  Thank you coach Sparling for the ride!” - Tyce Nasinec, Sales Manager, Auburn Dairy

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A Tribute to Coach Spar  

A Tribute to Coach Spar  

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