Before putting pen to paper and writing best-selling novels, Nicholas Sparks was a standout runner on a track and field scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
The author of romance hits The Notebook, Dear John, and Message in a Bottle, Sparks still holds a school record and coached his son’s track team at New Bern High School.
Sparks’ first novel, The Notebook, written in 1996, was made into a film starring Canadians Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Both the book and film are based off a true story about a couple in love during the 1940s. The film was a sleeper hit and has remained prevalent in pop culture despite getting modest reviews when first released in 2004.
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The Omaha, Neb. native has sold more than 100 million copies as an author.
The 50-year-old holds a University of Notre Dame record in the 4 x 800m relay, along with his three teammates, having run 7:20.11 in 1985, according to the university’s record books.
The man. The myth. The legend. Nicholas Sparks as a wee little Notre Dame Track and Field Athlete pic.twitter.com/aGGWLscace
— Josh Valjosh (@jdemps9sf) September 5, 2014
He has donated more than $900,000 towards a new track and field facility at New Bern High School and volunteers as an assistant coach, according to Spikes. In 2009, the team he coaches set a world junior indoor record in the 4 x 400m relay.
A photo posted by Notre Dame Football Usher (@notre_dame_usher) on
Beyond Sparks’ ties to running in high school, university, and through coaching, he has also co-written a book with an Olympic gold medallist.
He co-wrote the book, Wokini, with Billy Mills, the 10,000m gold medallist at the 1964 Olympics, who at the time became the first ever runner from the Western hemisphere to win the event.
Nicholas Sparks field. Where I coached my son’s track team. pic.twitter.com/M5U86gmeKW
— Nicholas Sparks (@NicholasSparks) August 5, 2013
His novel, Dear John, also became a box office hit with the same name when it was released in 2010. The romantic film starred Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.