JEFFERSON CITY (WATE) - The long-time Carson-Newman football coach is talking about his diagnosis of late-stage prostate cancer.
Ken Sparks was diagnosed just three weeks ago and had surgery a week later.
On the field, the 68-year-old seems invincible, leading the Eagles to five NCAA Division II national championships in his 32 years as coach. But off the field, a recent physical found he was only human.
"What stage was the cancer in when they found it? On a scale of one to 10, I was a nine. On the bad end? That's the bad end," he said.
The surgery, he said, went well, and he's waiting to hear what's next.
"The bone scan was negative. They took all the lymph nodes out. They were negative. The margins were good so things are looking a little bit better," he said.
In the meantime, Sparks isn't taking it easy on himself or his players. Fall practice starts in three weeks.
"Just like I told them this morning, August 8th I'm going to whoop every one of them, so they better come in here and be ready," he said.
He just told the team about his diagnosis this week and said the support has been overwhelming.
"He's going to continue to show up everyday and continue to give us his all so we should continue to do the same for him," said fifth-year senior and center Kevin Day.
Sparks wants to set a good example for these young men and others. First, he said, live life to the fullest.
Second, "Don't be stupid like me and not go get physicals and PSA checks. Those are important. I went six years without a physical."
That's why he's so grateful now for his doctors and his faith.
"I trust the Lord with my life and whatever he wants to do with me is okay. Last time I checked he was undefeated so I'm going to hang with him," he said.
Sparks expects to get his most recent test results back in the next few days. The Eagles' first game is August 30.