Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks has been honored with the first-ever Uncommon
Award, which recognizes an individual for their "uncommon
leadership through character and faith."
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy presented the award at a banquet last week in Minneapolis.
"It makes you think that maybe the Lord has used you to have some influence and some impact," Sparks said. "That's what we all want to do; we want to honor the Lord with some things that make a difference for eternity.
"The fact that it's the first one ever picked, that it's picked by Tony Dungy - that makes it special. I receive it on behalf of the Lord and on behalf of every kid that played for me - because they've been uncommon as well."
Sparks said the weekend was especially meaningful to him because he was able to witness 300 professions of faith at the event.
"We started the weekend with 6,000 men in an (assembly hall). They heard from a couple of all-pro players who played for Tony (Dungy) give their testimony," Sparks said. "300 of them made a decision that they wanted to live for the Lord, and that's always exciting to be a part of."
The statue for the Uncommon Award is adorned with representations of Dungy's father Wilbur Dungy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dungy's college coach Cal Stoll.
"It's very humbling," Sparks said. "To know that it's not about you. To know that a guy coaching at Carson-Newman, who has chosen to be at Carson-Newman for most of his career, it means a lot that the Lord can encourage him by letting him know that what he's done does make a difference."
Sparks has coached the Eagles for 33 years.