It took longer to fill than most coaching vacancies do, but Sparks has a new football coach: Kurt Kaufman.
He replaces Brad Rose, who moved over to North Valleys last January.
Kaufman, who has previous coaching stops at American River Junior College, Folsom High School and most recently Reed High, was named the Railroaders new coach on June 15.
Kaufman said the Railroaders program is in good shape.
“Coach Rose really did a great job of establishing a great foundation,” Kaufman said. “The program is built around the kids and the community.”
Kaufman said the program is about a week behind other area high school football programs as far as offseason conditioning, but that should not be a problem.
Sparks had a change at principal this spring. CJ Waddell took over for Kevin Carroll, who retired at the end of the school year; the change in administration held up the hiring process for a football coach. Rob Kittrell, Sparks’ football coach before Rose is back at Sparks as athletic administrator.
Kaufman has taught math at Dilworth Middle School since moving to Northern Nevada in 2020, and will teach weights at Sparks along with coaching the Railroaders this fall.
Before being an assistant coach at Reed last season, he was the JV offensive line coach and assisted with the varsity program at Folsom High. From 2011-13, he was an assistant coach at American River College.
He said Sparks High has a great community atmosphere that rallies around the school, and the alumni support at Sparks is strong – it reminds him of his previous coaching stops and his own high school in Fremont, California.
Sparks went 3-5 overall and 2-2 in league last year, and qualified for the playoffs for the second time under Rose.
Kaufman, 32, is already familiar with many of the Sparks students, since many come from Dilworth.
He said instilling good qualities in the students and helping them graduate will be as important as winning football games.
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.