Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sparks Excited To Lead Michigan

The University of Michigan recently underwent a coaching change with Brandon Sparks coming in as the new head coach. With the program enjoying success last season it's up to Sparks to continue the momentum. He was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us.

TIAR: You are new to the Michigan program. What made you want to take the position?

Brandon Sparks: Well, I was born and raised in Michigan so the chance to come home and coach a top class program was a win/win. I also have known Matt (Trenary) for several years and followed the progress this program has made under his watch. I strongly believe that what both Matt and the players did here at Michigan can be a blue print for other programs looking to legitamize their club in the eyes of the school. So, I'm really excited to carry that effort forward.

Take the jump to read more.

TIAR: The school had a terrific season last year. What are you doing to build upon that success?

BS: UMRFC supporters, and I as the incoming coach, are very lucky because these players have taken personal responsibility to build on their own success. In over 10 years of coaching I've never seen a squad this fit in preseason and fundamnetally sound. Stu Roche, the strength and condition coach, has really created an enviroment that these players have bought into which makes my job of teaching the rugby very easy.

TIAR: How does Michigan go about recruiting?

BS: I'm still figuring that out but Michigan youth rugby teams have a strong present on the squad. We have several kids from Dexter, Washtenaw and a few other programs.

TIAR: Who are you looking at to stand out for you this season?

BS: The back row trio of (Senior) Sequoyah Burke-Combs, (Sophmore) Zack Burns, and (Senior) Cole Van Harn are poised to have a big year. They all have good size, high work rates, and skills that will make for a lethal combination.

In the backs (Senior) fly-half Joel Conzelmann had an excellent summer away playing in New Zealand. While (Senior) scrum-half John Pallidino and (senior) inside center Jared Bosma put a ton of work in this summer with both posting some of the highest fitness scores in UMRFC history which will play out big for them this season.

TIAR: What is the infrastructure around the team like? Relations with Alumni?

BS: I'm still learning the ropes of the system around here but I can say up this this point Matt Trenary and the students have done an amazing job. This is still a very young club so everything is improving and the opportunity to be here and help out with that is something I'm not taking lightly. I will say that this was one of the most professional coaching interviews I have ever done, and the players had excellent support from Alumni Jeff Hagan and student advisory committee member Mike Brooks.

TIAR: Do you think the Big Ten Conference is headed in the right direction?

BS: Yes, I honestly feel this conference could teach a lot of other conferences new things. Tom Rooney is doing a great job in the position of conference commissioner, which is a hard and often lonely position. Between him and a dedicated core group of administrators and coaches they can really add some value to the Big Ten Conference which will only help rugby in America as a whole.

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