She is a former Big Ten basketball star playing for the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1980s. She was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
But this story is not about basketball. Here’s the story.
As a basketball player, Melinda Sparkman was known for her outstanding rebounding prowess and her uncanny shooting accuracy.
Well, recently, Melinda went 35 for 35, and it had nothing to do with basketball. The 54 year-old went 35 for 35 with tractor parts. That’s right, Sparkman, with the help of her brother, Wendy, took 35 tractor parts off an old 1961 International tractor and put them back on.
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This was not just any old tractor. This was a tractor her father, Paul Sparkman, owned from the late 1980s until 2003, when he sold it.
Years went by and Melinda really never thought much about the tractor. But in 2015, something happened. The man who bought the tractor asked Melinda if she wanted to buy it back.
But there was one problem — the tractor hadn’t run in years.
This didn’t deter Melinda, so she purchased the tractor her father once owned. The next question was what was she going to do with a tractor that no longer ran?
Well, she paid a mechanic to get it running. It took nine months to do so. But once Melinda got her tractor back, there was still lots of work to do.
The tractor needed some new parts and a paint job, so Melinda and her brother started taking parts off one piece at a time.
She took photos to remember where each piece was located. She put the old screws and nuts in bags and labeled them to help remember where they went.
Each part was painted that could be reused, and eventually their work went from taking parts off to putting parts back on — and all of them now a shiny new red. Some of those old parts couldn’t be reused, so Melinda became a hunter at old junkyards across southern Indiana.
But months later, with knuckles that will never be the same, the hard work started paying off. And eventually, with the patience of a true mechanic, Melinda and her brother were done. The 1961 International tractor with an Indiana red paint job was ready to roll.
Melinda says her tractor runs like a brand-new one, and as she proudly strolls through the neighborhood, her only wish is that her dad could see his tractor.