ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Old Abes Ace, Jake Sparger, heading to Louisville

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"My dad really pushed me. Really passed on the love of the game, because he really loves the game and he gave me that enthusiasm as well," says Eau Claire Memorial senior pitcher, Jake Sparger.

That love passed from father to son has also created a special bond between Eau Claire Memorial coach Dave Sparger and his star pitcher and son, Jake.

"We'll honestly spend 8 hours a day in the car, and just talk and hang out and it's just quality time that you can't get anywhere else," says Dave. "And we fortunately have been able to do it around baseball which we both love."

The coach-player dynamic has only deepened their father-son relationship.

"There's always a challenge when your dad comes out to the mound and wants to take you out of the game and he's not ready to come out," adds Dave, "but he's accepted and something that he realized that I'm a coach first in those situations and a dad second."

"I call him, "Dad" or "Coach" sometimes, mostly Dad...depends on the situation," says Jake.

The 6'5 180lb pitcher is solely focused on his senior year, as his future is locked up in Louisville.

"True leader, you know he shows a lot of passion for the game. He's worked his tail off for everything he's earned and it shows with him going to Louisville and everything," says teammate Drew Davis.

"They have one of the top pitching coaches in the nation," says Jake. "He really develops his pitchers and tries to get them right for the next level."

With an 87mile per hour fast ball, Sparger's childhood dream of playing in the big leagues seems within reach.

"He just wants to see how far he can take it and to what level he can pursue and hopefully he gets his dream and can play professional baseball," says Dave.

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