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Sparks High athletics on right track
by Aaron Retherford
May 24, 2013 | 2735 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Members of the Sparks softball team huddle around coach Frank Avilla during a game earlier this season. Railroaders softball qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2006.
Tribune file photo - Members of the Sparks softball team huddle around coach Frank Avilla during a game earlier this season. Railroaders softball qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2006.
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Sparks High School's athletic programs completed their first year in the NIAA's newly classified Division I-A North and the year went well for many.

Volleyball qualified for the postseason for the first time in four years.

Boys soccer won the North regional before falling in the state championship game.

Boys basketball and baseball continued their annual trek to the postseason. Wrestling grew in numbers and had a state runner-up in Mario Guadron. Softball was the big surprise, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2006 by winning the Mount Rose League.

“We were very competitive across the board in most things,” Sparks athletic director Rob Kittrell said. “It was very exciting to see our volleyball and softball teams qualify for the playoffs. It’s been a while for us to have a girls team qualify for the playoffs, so that was a huge step in the right direction … All in all, we’re taking small steps in the right direction.

Next year, Sparks will be strictly playing I-A opponents in league with the dissolution of the old pod system that grouped D-1A and D-3 opponents in the same leagues.

That will be a welcome change despite the added travel.

“We’re going to be playing in a straight I-A league,” Kittrell said. “For our lower levels, especially in the girls sports, we’ll have more games. I think this past year, our JV softball team maybe had eight league games. Almost everyone has freshman and JV at the I-A level. That will help tremendously in developing our younger kids.”

Another thing Kittrell is excited about is the school’s partnership with the Nevada Storm, a member of the Independent Women’s Football League.

Because the Storm is using Sparks High as its home field this season, representatives from the Storm came in and helped replace the grass on the football field. There has also been a lack of water pressure with the irrigation system, causing grass on the fields to die prematurely. The Nevada Storm has helped donate more high-pressure sprinkler heads to fix that problem.

Kittrell said so far it has been working. The grass is getting more water coverage with the sprinkler heads.

One area that Kittrell still thinks Sparks can improve in is girls sports, even with two teams qualifying for the playoffs this year.

“I’d like to see more girls out for sports. I’d like to see more of our female athletes in the weight room getting stronger and becoming better athletes,“ Kittrell said. “As a whole, I’d like to see our female teams get more competitive.”
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DenLamb
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May 28, 2013
I think one of the things Sparks High could do to improve some of their sports teams is to make some coaching changes. Varsity girls soccer and Varsity boys football continue to struggle due to ineffective coaching. The students continue to change, coaches stay the same and they end up with the same result. The common denominator (coaching) needs to change. A change in athletic directors would also benefit the school.
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