Higher Learning CEO/Founder, Shennette Sheffield Sparkes, was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sparkes grew up as a multitalented athlete, attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School. In high school she ran track and played volleyball, with her skills and passion for basketball setting her apart.  Named an honorable mention All-District selection for her final three years of high school, as well as MVP for her team during her final season. She was also nominated McDonalds All-American in 2006. Sparkes went on to play for the Lady Ospreys basketball team at the University of North Florida, with high Academic recognition in the Atlantic Sun Conference for several seasons. While playing basketball in college Shennette Sparkes was diagnosed with two types of Lupus.  Lupus is a chronic illness that over 1.5 million are suffering with. Never letting the disease stop her from accomplishing her goals, she completed her four years at UNF and went on to play semi-professional basketball for the Orlando Extreme.

Through the years, Shennette’s love for basketball has propel her to coaching.  Coach Sheff has coached several successful basketball teams. Her most recent job she was the Head Coach at San Jose Catholic Grade School, Head Coach for North Florida Lady Predators Elite AAU and the Assistant Basketball Coach for Mandarin High School. She’s previously been the Head Coach for the North Florida Spartans AAU, Assistant Basketball Coach at Ridgeview High School, as well as the Student Coach for the University of North Florida. Coach Sheff has also worked as the Director of Basketball Operations for the 2012, 2013 Back to Back ABA Champions the Jacksonville Giants three years. Coaching has given Shennette the opportunity to share her talents with the world.  She loves the ability to help young athletes accomplish their goals in life.

Coach Sparkes currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of North Florida. Coach Sparkes is a proud wife and mother. She loves coaching, mentoring and speaking to young people.  She is the Head Junior Varsity Coach at Ribualt High School and Serves of the University Of North Florida Alumni Association Board of Director. Sparkes published her first book entitled Training with A purpose. This book we created by Sparkes as weekly quote journal that inspires students and athletes to develop the heart of a champion. According to Coach Sparkes a champion is someone who has faith, never gives up and makes others around them better.

Coach Sparkes believes that all great coaches should strive to motivate, inspire and inform each athlete they meet.  Sparkes feels “that’s as coaches we have a great responsibility as role models and leaders”. By informing our athletes we help equip them with the tools necessary to get the job done. Our motivation is the ability to help fuel an athlete’s purpose when things are good or bad. We must inspire them to be great. Greatness is just simply in every situation giving it you’re all. These are all tools she believes a child can use for the rest of their life. Living life as an athlete has given Shennette Sparkes all the tools necessary to battle lupus every day.

“ Remember Only The Strong Survive”- Coach Sparkes