Gopher Sport announces SPARK leadership team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2019

Gopher Sport announces SPARK leadership team


Owatonna, Minn.— Gopher Sport is excited to announce the newly formed SPARK leadership team:

  • Julie Frank, SPARK Executive Director (aka Executive Director of Evidence and Impact—Chief Needle Mover)

  • Jeff Mushkin, SPARK Development Director (aka Director of Innovation and Facilitator of WOW)

  • Ryan Schissler, SPARK Educational Programs Director (aka Director of Worldwide Reach and Unbridled Happiness). Each leader brings over a decade of SPARK background, insight, and leadership to the Gopher Sport team.


SPARK (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) was co-founded by SDSU professors in 1989, and over the last 30 years, it has expanded to become the world’s most researched physical education program. SPARK features programs designed for Physical Education, Early Childhood, After School programs, and Active Classroom settings. Each curriculum is supported by digital content, teacher trainings, and program-specific equipment.

Gopher Sport and the San Diego State University Research Foundation announced a new, exclusive partnership with SPARK, the world’s most researched physical education program, in March 2019. This new partnership enables Gopher Sport and San Diego State University (SDSU) to further enhance physical education and activity programs by offering evidence and standards-based SPARK curriculum, outcomes-driven SPARK professional development, and expert-selected, SPARK content-matched equipment.

“We were excited to learn that Gopher Sport hired three long-time SPARK stars,” said SPARK Founders and Authors Jim Sallis, Thom McKenzie, and Paul Rosengard. “They understand what makes SPARK special and have the knowledge base and passion to inspire and motivate teachers and instructors. This combination of SPARK knowledge and experience, a menu of effective and efficacious SPARK programs, and an energetic and committed new dissemination partner is unbeatable. Go Team SPARK and Gopher!”

Julie Frank, new SPARK leader says, “It is an honor to be selected to lead the new SPARK team; especially with the commitment and support of the Gopher Sport family. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeff and Ryan for many years, and together with our complementary skill sets, we make a terrific team. To be in a position to lead the #SPARKRevival is truly a dream come true. The #SPARKRevival is a commitment to evidence, innovation, and impact! We will strive to improve the lives and health of children, adolescents, and adults everywhere. It’s going to be a SPARKtacular ride!”

SPARK (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) was co-founded by SDSU professors in 1989, and over the last 30 years, has expanded to become the world’s most researched physical education program. SPARK features programs designed for Physical Education, Early Childhood, After School, and Active Classroom settings.

“Physical activity is key to a well-rounded education and the health of generations to come—no other curriculum has been researched and proven to be as effective as SPARK,” said Matt Ginskey Gopher Sport Vice President of Marketing. “We look forward to continuing to advocate for higher levels of quality physical education and activity programs in our schools by utilizing proven programs like SPARK.”

SPARK is one of SDSU’s biggest success stories!” said SDSU Research Foundation Director of Technology Transfer Tommy Martindale. “SPARK started in 1989 as a grant from NIH (National Institutes of Health) and has positively impacted over 200,000 teachers and millions of students worldwide.

SPARK curricula and resources are available today exclusively through Gopher Sport’s website (GopherSport.com) and its catalog. Call 1-833-737-7275 or go online to sparkphysed.org to learn more about how SPARK programs can make a difference in your program! ###



About Gopher Sport

Gopher Sport has proudly served schools, athletic programs, and countless institutions for more than 70 years. We are dedicated to providing customers with products and services needed to increase activity, improve fitness, develop skills, create fun, and reach a higher standard of learning and living.