BRISTOL, Tenn. – King University has announced a change in their cycling program as Dan Kreiss has stepped down from his position of head coach. Kreiss has been the only coach in the short history of the Tornado cycling program as he hands over the reins to Alan Sparks. Sparks has been chosen to lead a program that has won back-to-back Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference road championships.
Kreiss will remain at King as a full-time faculty member while he peruses a doctorate degree. He is going to seminary to pursue a Master of Divinity and eventually a Doctorate of Ministry in Emerging Generations.
"It was a difficult decision to let the team go but I believe that it is the best thing for the program and will allow it to grow and provide me with the opportunity to pursue further studies," Kress said.
Kreiss became the first cycling coach when the school added the sport in 2009. The Tornado competed in their first race in 2010, and the program has only grown from there. King finished fifth at USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in 2012 before winning their first SECCC title in 2013 and repeating that feat in 2014. The Tornado turned in their best finish at USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals this past season, taking fourth.
"I'd like to thank Dan Kreiss for his leadership of our men's and women's cycling programs the past five years," athletic director David Hicks said. "Dan was integral in starting the Tornado program in 2009, and in the short time since its inception has guided the program to two SECCC championships and a pair of top five finishes at USA Cycling College Road Nationals. In addition to individual top five finishes at the mountain bike and cyclo-cross national championships."
Sparks has more than 35 years of experience in cycling and comes to King after serving as the president and coach of the East Tennessee State University Cycling Club. He created the ETSU Cycling Club just five years ago, and has seen it grow exponentially in that time under his guidance.
"I plan to build onto a solid foundation that coach Dan Kreiss has assembled by adding mountain biking to the successful road and cyclo-cross programs in place," Sparks said.
Under Sparks' leadership, ETSU has placed a rider on the podium at the USA Cycling Collegiate Nationals in four of the past five years. Sparks is a USA Cycling (USAC) certified coach and brings experience as a competitive rider in mountain bike, road, cyclo-cross, and BMX disciplines.
"I'm very blessed to have been chosen by King University for this remarkable opportunity as head men's and women's cycling coach," continued Sparks. "I look forward to working with the exceptional student-athletes that King has in their cycling program."
He has experience in all disciplines, and riders under his tutelage have had great success in recent years at USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals. Sparks has 35 years of experience in BMX and 23 years of mountain biking experience. He has been competing or coaching road cycling for 13 years and has five years of experience in cyclo-cross.
"While I am sad to see Dan step down as head coach, I'm also excited for the future of our program," Hicks continued. "Dan has remained a full-time faculty member, teaching a full course load, during his time as head coach, making the program's accomplishments even more impressive. Alan will be the first true full-time coach in program history, and will have more time to devote to the program, our student-athletes, and recruiting."
"Alan brings an enthusiasm for the King program that will help take it to the next level," Kreiss stated. "He is the perfect person for this position now that it has been made full-time. I am excited about seeing the program progress under his leadership."