Service to Willamette Athletics Honoree

Les Sparks '19

Les Sparks '19

  • Basketball, Basketball, Football, Tennis, Track and Field
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1991
Les Sparks was known as Mr. Willamette. His association with the University began in the fall of 1915 as a freshman and lasted 64 years until he died in 1979 at the age of 82. He coached men's tennis for 50 years from 1925-1974 and during a 10-year span (1952-1961) the Bearcats captured 10 straight Northwest Conference championships and did not lose a single conference dual match. Sparks was also head track coach for 15 seasons (1923-1932, 1934-37, 1943), assisted with football, basketball and track, and was the head of the P.E. department. He also was the trainer for the athletic department. Prior to returning to Willamette as a coach, Sparks guided Salem High School's basketball team into the state tournament in the early 20's. Later he refereed, and for 25 years served as manager and director of the tourney, which moved to Willamette in its second year. Sparks officially retired in 1974, the year the new physical education building that bears his name was completed.
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