10 Orange and 6 Orange Head Coach
J’Neil Sharpe has been playing basketball since the age of five and still has not put the basketball down. She fell in love with the game at an early age playing in various rec leagues and AAU. J’Neil played five years of Varsity basketball between Southside and Notre Dame High Schools in Elmira, NY. She continued playing at Corning Community College as a two-year starter and captain where she was named to the Mid-State Athletic Conference All-Star team both years before transferring to the University at Albany to continue her education.
J’Neil is both a coach and Board member for the Saratoga Sparks. Her coaching experience varies from 3rd grade to Varsity high school basketball. Basketball played a huge role in her development as a youth. J’Neil learned how to be a good teammate and team player, She learned to develop a good work ethic and to set goals and J’Neil walked away with life-long friendships. These are all attributes that we at the Sparks hope to foster in your children, to build them up both on and off the court.
9 Orange Head Coach
Jaclyn Welch has been playing basketball since she was in 2nd grade at Blessed Sacrament School. Jaclyn continued her journey through both high school and college at Colonie, Niagara County Community College, and Barton College. She received several awards including Division 2 All-American 2nd team, Region 2 Player of the Year, and Freshman Athlete of the Year. Jaclyn was a captain all 4 years of college at both schools. After playing she immediately started coaching at the college level at Hudson Valley Community College, Bryant and Stratton College, and Mount Mary University. Jaclyn is a Sparks alumni and is so proud to be coaching in the program that gave so much to her as a student athlete.
8 Orange Head Coach
Kristen Dart has loved the game of basketball since she was in second grade when she first watched a women’s college basketball game on TV. She was an area standout at the high school level. She continued her playing career at Lycoming College. After college she returned to area, and was a two- year head coach at Albany College of Pharmacy. Coach Dart’s team made it the conference championship both years, winning in the second year. She was also twice named conference coach of the year. She took her coaching talents to Skidmore College as an assistant coach for one season. During this time, she also coached local AAU teams. A career change took her to RI. Luckily, she has returned to the area and has joined the Sparks coaching staff.
Coach Dart is passionate about teaching young players the fundamentals of basketball. She is focused on building both individual skills and team play to help young players achieve their potential. As a self-proclaimed basketball junkie, she is a student of the sport and consistently combines tried and true basketball principals with new techniques to ensure each athlete can reach their goals.
7 Orange Head Coach
Alyssa Filkins joined the Sparks as a coach in 2018 and has loved helping to develop young female athletes. She was an area well-known defensive player for Maple Hill High School and went on to play at Utica College, where she had a successful collegiate career, holding MVP & Best Defensive Player titles. However, she takes the most pride in making youth basketball a fun and exciting learning environment where players can build on their individual and team skills.
4/3 Orange Head Coach
Jim Shields is excited to coach once again for the Sparks. As means of an introduction, he has been with the Sparks as a coach and board member for 11 years. Jim’s background is that he played in college at the University of Richmond, went on to play professionally in the NBA G-league here in the US and then 12 seasons spent in Germany, Turkey and Greece.
Jim’s involvement with the Sparks started with his daughters getting involved in AAU – all three of them played in the organization. He has had the pleasure of coaching at multiple levels: Men’s professional team in Europe, women’s German club team, travel, CYO, and AAU. Jim says “You have found a great place for you daughter to fall in love with the game and I will do all I can to help foster that enjoyment.”