|From Followers To Fans To Foundation Members|
For Bob Hawkins, Bill Sanchez and Larry Sparling, a trio of care-free men who enjoy a good time, the fact that Hawkins and Sanchez are San Jose State graduates and Sparling, a California State University, Fresno graduate does not stand in the way of more than 35 years of true friendship.
After all, Sanchez (Class of 76) and Hawkins (Class of 77) regularly gave Sparling the business early on when the Jack Elway-coached Spartans would take care of the Bulldogs in Bulldog Stadium. Whether it was the 1981 ABC regionally televised 65-33 shellacking, the 35-22 win in 1979 or the 41-23 boat race by San Jose State in 1983, Sparling says the "...the Fresno fans were in absolute shock."
What isn't shocking to Sanchez, Hawkins are the loyalty and core values Sparling stands for that has made him an unqualified success managing and growing a West Coast diaper business. That success gave him time to invest in his friendship with Sanchez and Hawkins and venture outside the San Joaquin Valley to see Spartan Athletics in person and eventually become a Spartan Foundation member.
STAUNCH SUPPORT FOR THE STUDENT-ATHLETE
"What better place to send a gift than to
help young people get an education?" says Sparling, who claims the best seats
in Spartan Stadium are at the top of the upper deck. "I also get to watch them
compete on the field and I enjoy this very much. My wife, Elaine, and I always
try to support education and athletics."
In the last four years, you could see any one of the three at the cozy and friendly confines of Spartan Stadium for football or women's soccer. Sanchez's daughter, Lauren Sanchez, was a four-year starter and team captain for the Spartans' women's soccer team. Two years ago, Bill, Bob and Larry piled into Sparling's camper and drove to Ruston, La., for the Western Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Championship. Ironically, Fresno State ousted San Jose State in the championship match that was decided by penalty kicks. True to form, Larry could throw his chest out proudly as it was a Sanchez score for San Jose State that started the penalty kick overtime sequence.
The round trip excursion to Louisiana will seem like a day trip for them compared to what they have planned this fall. They have a 5,500-plus mile trip on the docket first to San Diego for the September 22 game at Qualcomm Stadium against San Diego State followed by the first San Jose State-Navy football game a week later.
"I think driving is the best way to travel because you get to see the great nation that we live in. We will do as much sightseeing as time permits. We'll stay in motels and we always stop at good restaurants for our evening meals. Mealtime is my favorite time of these trips," Sparling says.
About the only thing they won't be able to do in the camper is to watch Lauren embark on a professional soccer career. The 2012 graduate who majored in business is playing in Icelandic summer league.
Not even a summer in
Iceland could thaw out the lifelong friendship of Bill Sanchez, Bob Hawkins and
The Spartan Foundation is the fundraising arm of San Jose State Athletics, with the primary mission of raising scholarship support for more than 300 student-athletes in 16 sports through the Spartan Scholarship Fund. Membership levels start at just $8 a month and a variety of payments methods can be arranged to make investing in the Spartans work for your individual financial situation.
For more information on how you can BE THE ONE to make a difference in the lives of Spartan student-athletes call the Spartan Foundation at 408-924-1720, visit us online by clicking "GIVING" while at www.sjsuspartans.com or send an email to email@example.com.