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Be true to your school
by Dan Eckles
Nov 20, 2013 | 2764 views | 4 4 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan Eckles - Gregg Shugar, a 1988 Sparks High graduate, took a job at the school in 2002 as a groundskeeper. He's now the registrar at SHS and loves every minute of his time at the local school.
Tribune photo by Dan Eckles - Gregg Shugar, a 1988 Sparks High graduate, took a job at the school in 2002 as a groundskeeper. He's now the registrar at SHS and loves every minute of his time at the local school.
Every school has a few, a few of those staff members who just seem to care about the school and its students more than normal. They care so much that the fiber of the school is woven into them and when students think about the school, they think about those few special staff members who care just a little more.

Sparks High certainly has its fair share of those staff members. One is the school's registrar, Gregg Shugar. There's a reason Sparks High is important to him. He grew up there. A life-long Sparks resident, Shugar grew up attending Alice Maxwell Elementary and Sparks Middle before enrolling at Sparks High. He graduated from SHS in 1988 and a decade later found his way back.

"Sparks High is my school and it's always been my school," Shugar said. "It started back in 1984 when I was freshman here and it's been in my system ever since.

"When I was going here, there were a bunch of kids right down the street who went to middle school with me and they went over to Reed. They looked differently at me, like they went to Reed and thought they were better. I think that's kind of formed the way I feel now. I just love Sparks and the hard-working parents, families and staff we have here."

Understandably, there's a lot of Maroon and Gold in Shugar's clothes closet. He quipped that he doesn't own anything blue before admitting he does have a navy blue Nevada Wolf Pack jacket.

Sparks is the Rail City's oldest high school and it resides in west Sparks where there is less development and more blight. Still, Shugar said he hates the reputation that Sparks High is seen by some as a second-tier school.

"There is a stigma and I can't stand that," he said. "People don't know what goes on at this school. Both of my sons have gone or go here and it's where I want my kids to be. We have great teachers, hard-working kids and not as many problems as people assume. Our teachers are like family. They work hard for the kids here and it was the same way when I was going here. I had so many teachers and coaches help me out when I was here as a student. It just feels right for me to be here now."

Shugar, 43, took a tough route to get to his career at Sparks High. He married young, at 21. A year later, he and his wife Liz had their first child. Shugar initially attended the University of Nevada, but financial burden of taking care of a family took priority. He worked for First Interstate and Wells Fargo banks for the better part of a decade.

In 1999, he joined the football staff of Railroaders coach Rob Kittrell. Soon after he remembered how much he loved Sparks High and the students there. In 2001, Shugar took over as the head freshmen football coach for the Railroaders. He's been either the head freshmen or JV coach since.

Coaching at Sparks in those early years got Shugar's Railroader blood flowing again. He left the banking industry to take over as the school's groundskeeper in October of 2002. Oddly enough, a back injury he suffered while working as the groundskeeper, helped him get a promotion to registrar.

"I was just happy to be here at first. Being in the school district, the groundskeeper job was stable and at that time, banking wasn't so stable. The groundskeeper job was an opportunity to do what I love to do, which is coach and to get in here. Then I got a herniated disc and was out a little bit. I started  taking some classes from the school district system and the registrar opportunity arose. My experience  at the banks and taking the classes  helped. If I had not hurt my back, I probably wouldn't be here."

As registrar, Shugar oversees many of the school's permanent files. He is in charge of student transcripts, registering new students and properly releasing students moving away from SHS. However, there's more to it than that.

"Sometimes, people call me our fifth counselor," Shugar joked. "I talk to quite a few kids every day, especially kids who play for me. I'm more than happy to take the time to help them out."

In addition to being the registrar and freshmen football coach, he also coaches JV baseball. He is the advisor to the school's Block S Club, which is comprised of athletes who share the same goal of improving the school and community. He is the school's public address announcer during the winter basketball season and he organizes countless other activities.

"He's invested here," Sparks High athletic director Rob Kittrell said. "He's an alum, a graduate  and he wants to give back everything Sparks High gave him to make it a unique place, a great place.

"From an AD's standpoint, you can count on him when you need help. A lot of times, he puts the school before his own family. He's an amazing guy who truly cares about these kids and families. He'd pretty much do anything for them, including giving them the shirt off his own back."

Given that he works with so many students and he knows many of them come from families scraping by to make ends meet, he admits its pretty special to see Railroader kids succeed.

"We've got kids you never hear about doing great things," Shugar said. "Coaching is awesome but on graduation day, giving diplomas to kids, who people thought would never get one, to see them overcome obstacles in their lives, it's just awesome. Watching these kids succeed and grow is great. The best thing we get is when kids come back and say 'thank you.' That's the pay day right there."

Sparks High is in Shugar's DNA and he's proud of it. He hopes to eventually retire from the school. So how does he hope Railroaders staff and students think of "I just want to be thought of and remembered as somebody that cares and somebody who works hard for kids, giving them guidance when they need it," Shugar said. "A guy who tells them something they need to hear, not always what they want to hear. When all is said and done, I hope the kids see me how I saw my coaches and teachers, just a guy who helped them get to where they are."


Gregg Shugar's favorites

Food: anything my wife makes

TV Show: Breaking Bad

Movie: Full Metal Jacket

Book: Friday Night Lights

Song: Crazy Train

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 13, 2013
Every school could use more Shugar's, this guy makes a serious difference with our youth and helps shape futures for the better, which I am proof of and I don't stand alone! Coach Shug, your awesome....keep doing what you do!
November 26, 2013
Shug has always been an amazing person I used to be his aid back in 2006 and he helped me grow and become the person I am today he had my back and helped me through so many things he's one of the people that encouraged me to apply for UNR after I got hurt playing sports and my dreams of being a college athlete disappeared he has always been an amazing guy and I agree maroon and gold runs through his veins he's helped me and so many other students it's nice to see him and sparks high get some positive press!
Mike Buck
November 26, 2013
I worked with Greg 20 years ago, I was impressed with him then and even more now. Good Job!
November 25, 2013
Greg Shugar is also one of the main reasons that school has a football and baseball program. Lets put it this way, Sparks High needs Greg Shugar more than this article would lead you to believe.
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