John "Spark" Sankal - 2009
Eastlake North High Schoool
2009 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
John "Spark" Sankal - Eastlake North High School
John "Spark' Sankal began his career as a teacher and JV coach at Eastlake North in 1974 after graduating from Bowling Green State University with a degree in health and physical education. He moved to special education, was named head baseball coach, and received his Masters in Administration degree from Cleveland State all in the 1979-80 school year. He was selected as Lake County Learning Disabilities Teacher of the Year in1982, and prior to retirement in 2005, Spark returned to teaching health for the two most enjoyable years of his teaching career. Currently he works part-time in the North special education department, volunteers on the North baseball staff, is an instructor at Super Joe's Baseball Academy, and is the secretary-treasurer of the Lake County Baseball Club, the local high school baseball coaches association. Having coached at all levels in the local summer leagues, Spark currently organizes and coaches the Shannon Fence team in the Tri-State Collegiate Summer Baseball League.
Spark's varsity baseball teams compiled a record of 439-272-2. Most of these games were played in the old Greater Cleveland Conference, an eight-school league that boasted not only four OHSBCA Hall of Fame coaches, but also seven coaches who won 300 games or more. "Against those guys," Spark jokes, "we established a legacy of finishing second." His teams' wins are the most by a coach at a single school in Lake County history. Under Spark the Rangers won three conference championships, played in the district 15 times, and made one regional appearance. He was selected as coach of the year twice by both the GCC and the Premier Athletic Conference. He was also a two-time coach of the year by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, three times by the Lake County News-Herald and four times by the Lake County Baseball Club. Spark coached in the 1998 Mizuno All-Star Series, and in 2005 was given the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Award. Six of his former players have gone on to play professionally.
Spark played both football and baseball at Mentor High School. He met his wife Jill (Sidney H.S.) at BGSU. They married and settled in Mentor to raise two sons. Jill, a retired second grade teacher in Mentor, was (and still is) the one who held things together while "my three boys were out playing." Oldest son Josh, a three-sport athlete at Mentor, graduated from Ohio University, works as a chemist for Barr Laboratories, and is doing grad work at Xavier University. He married his wife Jess (Milford, OU) in October and they live in Cincinnati. Twenty -three-year-old Jake was a member of Mentor's state-contending baseball and football teams. He played baseball at the College of Wooster graduating with a degree in Social Studies and minor in Art. Jake is currently an assistant baseball and strength coach at Case-Western University while doing graduate work in exercise science at Cleveland State. Both boys are OHSBCA Scholarship recipients.