Warrior Sagas: Get to know Brandon Sparks
Here at the Utah Warriors, we recognize the value in our players and staff and their personal stories. Each is unique and brings their specific talents and experiences to the organization, enhancing the value of the team. Without them, there is no Utah Warriors!
In light of this, we wanted to allow you, Warriors Nation, the opportunity to get to know the players, coaches and staff, whom you love and support, a little better. Enter the “Warrior Sagas,” a multi-series in which we will highlight an individual player or staff member, a Warrior, on multiple platforms to share their stories with you.
For our first staff feature in the series, we are highlighting the man behind the scenes and who spearheads the high-performance initiatives, Brandon Sparks, Director of Rugby for the Utah Warriors.
Sparks initially played football all through high school but then realized in his senior year that it was time to shift his focus toward rugby.
“I realized, genetically, I wasn’t as gifted, which allowed me to play rugby more and more through college,” Sparks said. “I was fortunate enough to spend about 12 years bumming around the world playing for different teams and experiencing different cultures.”
Sparks said his experience traveling and playing rugby set him up for success once he returned to the United States.
“[I] applied that knowledge and experience to American rugby to help grow the sport here in the States,” Sparks said.
Sparks went on to help coach several teams, such as the men’s and women’s age-grade pathway for the U.S. teams and the University of Michigan. He is also a referee and established the Legacy Rugby Academy in Michigan, which focuses on developing athletes to prepare them for the next level of rugby.
“I don’t feel there’s enough academies in America really focused on that goal for players,” Sparks said.
This is what helped drive him to create the Legacy Rugby Academy and what drives him now in working so hard to establish a high-performance pathway here in Utah.
UTAH WARRIORS HIGH-PERFORMANCE
With the Utah Warriors High-Performance programs, Sparks is looking to create a clear progression for Utah players to go from high school, college and club to Major League Rugby (MLR). The programs include Junior Warriors, Warriors Academy and Warriors Selects.
“Here in Utah, I’m looking to maximize the local talent because I believe it is the best in the country,” Sparks said.
Sparks is looking to work with both high school players and coaches of local rugby organizations to help develop them, their curriculum and content. He believes by doing so, the transition from high school to college rugby will be much easier.
In addition to the pathway, Sparks also contributes to a scouting network, which allows him to identify key players from across the country. This network allows those who have access to it to build out a comprehensive database on the American talent offered right now.
“America has an amazing pool of rugby talent that hasn’t been utilized, scouted or maximized yet in our league and at the national team level as well,” Sparks said.
This scouting network is the beginning of tapping into that pool and giving American players the opportunity to continue their rugby careers professionally.
For Utah specifically, Sparks utilizes this network to track local collegiate players and potentially transition them into the Warriors Selects program.
“Our Selects program is really focused on preparing the next wave of MLR players and the future stars for the Utah Warriors,” Sparks said.
DIRECTOR OF RUGBY
As the Director of Rugby for the Utah Warriors, Sparks is involved with several key, moving parts of the organization.
He is responsible for player management, the build-out of the pathway, Junior Warriors content creation, brand management in the rugby community, talent identification both globally and domestically and relationship management of local, national and global shareholders.
When asked what led him to work for the Utah Warriors, Sparks said, “I felt like this was the best area in our country to be at to be successful with the local rugby community and transitioning them to the MLR level because Utah has phenomenal rugby at the club, college and high school level, which we can really maximize and make us a championship program.”
OUTSIDE OF RUGBY
Outside of the Utah Warriors, Sparks enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, practicing jiu-jitsu and scuba diving.
He is also an international award-winning stage actor and director for the International Thespian Society, and he and his wife adopt elderly English bulldogs to give them a pleasant end of life.
To hear more of Sparks’ story, watch the full video here.
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