U.S. National Junior Team goaltender Garret Sparks is well known to Guelph Storm (OHL) fans, but many people might not know about his life outside of goaltending. Specifically, outside of the blue paint.
There is his knack for drawing, he likes to draw his own mask designs, but there are two other passions that might suprise people who follow the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect.
Follow is the key word. Sparks is quickly gaining recognition for an engaging Twitter account (@GSparks40) and he has more than 3,000 followers. It's the Twitter account Sparks follows, however, that reveals a passion that takes him away from goaltending. Hint: It still involves hockey.
We sat down with Sparks for a Q&A on Team USA's off day before facing Canada on Dec. 30 in Ufa, Russia, in the third game of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Since most people know you as a goaltender, when did you start playing the position?
I started playing when I was 7 because my dad played. I wanted to impress him so I put the pads on for one game and never really turned back from there. I fell in love with it. It's a lot different now than when you're 7 but there are a lot of things to enjoy about it and look at where I am now I wouldn't be where I am today without making that decision.
Why is Twitter important to you?
I have a lot of things I have in my life that are worthy of sharing and it's a great time killer when you need to kill time and a lot of fun overall.
What sorts of things are worth sharing?
Just pictures of every day life that you don't see every day, kind of like the traffic jam today (Team USA was stuck in a huge traffic jam and Sparks tweeted a photo).
Who do you follow?
I don't really follow people for their specific tweets. I mainly follow friends. I like the Bill Nye parody account though, there are some good parody accounts out there.
We hear you have another hockey team and on that squad you don't play goaltender. Can you explain?
It's my men's league team (he follows them on Twitter @lemonheadhc). Playing forward is the most fun I have outside of playing this level of hockey. I love hockey, there's nothing else in life that gets me happier than that. To be able to play it with all my best friends back home with a great group of players.
We have a great time before, during and after. It's a great way to stay busy during the summer. I relish getting out of the net every once in a whie. I love hockey now matter what position I'm playing. I love the boys back home too.
Do you have an advantage over other goaltenders because of the high level at which you compete?
My only advantage as a forward is knowing what I should do but if I had more ability to follow through on that I'd probably have a lot more goals. As a forward I put everything at the net because anything can happen. I like to test the goalie.