KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An East Tennessee coach started his work at Farragut High School, leading students to victory on football fields. Later, that same coach started leading the team at Carson Newman University.
And now, Ken Sparks has a documentary. For 46 years he dedicated his life to football, while also cultivating a strong faith in Christianity. For much of his career, he worked at where ministry and football met and tried to make football about more than a game.
'The Ken Sparks Story' follows his journey. In interviews with people he impacted and through news articles showing his work as a coach, the documentary tells the story of the man whose dedication to his faith drove his commitment to football.
He died of cancer in 2017 after coaching the Eagles for 37 years. During that time, he led the team to five national championships and he has the fifth-place spot for all-time wins in the NCAA. He stepped down from coaching in 2016 while being treated.
Former Carson Newman quarterback Jeff Joslin of Double J Productions partnered with Native Wind Media, his son's family-run production company, to bring the story of Sparks' life to the screen.
"There are thousands and thousands of guys all across the world just like me, who were directly impacted by Ken Sparks," one interviewee said in the documentary's trailer.
The Regal movie theater in Turkey Creek held a red carpet premiere reception on Friday at around 6:30 p.m., and people packed in to see it. The 6:50 p.m. showing at the theater sold out.
More than 200 coaches and athletes are also expected to show up for a Sunday night event at the same theater.
Additional showings are scheduled in Knoxville through Jan. 13.