GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) — The coaches, the players, and the moments are engrained in the memories of the North Carolina State University Wolfpack faithful over the course of nearly 40 years.
For decades, Beverly Sparks, affectionately known as Mrs. Bev, had a front-row seat.
“Okay, I started out with Norm Sloan in 1975. I have worked with every coach since Norm Sloan. Except for the coach we have now. Coach (Kevin) Keatts,” Sparks said.
Sparks started out as a secretary for the basketball program.
“I was just so surprised that I got the job to begin with. It was just so overwhelming, and the guys were just so tall,” she said while smiling.
Then, she transitioned over to sports information. Eventually, she became an administrative assistant.
On Saturday, former players, coaches, family, and friends gathered for a dinner in Garner to wish Sparks a happy 90th birthday.
The celebration happened the same weekend the late Jim Valvano was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Valvano was who Sparks started working with in 1987.
“The Jim Valvano. There was only one. There will never be another like him,” Sparks said.
Former players and coaches say the same about Sparks.
“Mrs. Beverly was a mother away from home. She took care of us and anything that we needed she was always there. She’s just a special lady,” said former N.C. State basketball player Alvin Battle.
“Bev was the First Lady of NC state basketball. I mean she knows the history. She took care of players and coaches and administrators,” said Stan Lewter, a former N.C. State assistant coach.
Sparks went on to retire in 2011. She said she was grateful so many people showed up to celebrate her birthday with her.
“It’s hard for me to believe that there’s this many people that are just so special and the people in this room, but they are here for me,” Sparks said.