Ted “Rock” Knapp will be at the Chick-Fil-A inside the Albany Mall today between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to sign copies of his book, "The Great Adventures of Sparky the Angel."
ALBANY — The “Rock” returns to Albany today, and Tedd Knapp’s bringing with him something even he didn’t believe he’d ever attempt.
Knapp, the long-time football coach who came to Albany in 2007-08 to take over at Sherwood Christian, is an author now and he’s promoting his first book, “The Great Adventures of Sparky the Angel.”
Knapp will be selling and signing the new publication today from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chick-Fil-A inside the Albany Mall. “The Great Adventures of Sparky the Angel” can also be purchased online at www.rockknapp.com for $15.
The former Albany Herald Coach of the Year was forced to retire his whistle after his final coaching stop in Southwest Georgia in 2008 and continues a nearly five-year battle against terminal cancer, although the dreaded disease has been in remission for several years.
“If you were to ask me five years ago if I would ever write a children’s book, I would have looked at you like you were absolutely nuts,” Knapp told The Herald from his home in Peachtree City on Thursday.
Knapp admits even he wasn’t sure he could craft a successful book for children, but he had one undeniable talent that helped entertain his five children growing up — a knack for telling stories.
Most of all, Knapp wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between the memories he shares with his four grandchildren, all age 2 and under, and how they’ll remember him. He believes his new book will do that by leaving a way for his young grandchildren to remember the things for which he stood.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to pass away and they’re so young,’ ” Knapp said about the beginnings of his idea for a book more than six months ago. “I’m going to have no connection to them. They’re not going to remember me. That just eats me up, so I thought I’ve got to do something that will connect me to the grandkids.”
So Knapp, the imposing and sometimes gruff football coach, penned the fictional adventure book for youth in the middle-school-and-up age range that captures the journey of a teenage boy with leukemia who is visited by an angel that takes him on a memorable journey.
“With each great adventure there are lessons of love, courage, obedience, faith, hope and spiritual peace,” Knapp’s website says about “The Great Adventures of Sparky the Angel.”
Knapp remains weak most days from several years of chemotherapy and a broken-down immune system. He says he nearly died from a bout with pneumonia suffered three weeks ago.
“To be very honest, it’s the only thing I can do,” Knapp said of writing. “I get around a little bit, but not very much. So writing allowed me to be productive.”
The feedback and sales for the book in its first month have been exceptional, according to Knapp. He can’t keep up with the orders but plans to have about 200 books on hand for his stop in Albany, where he led Sherwood Christian to its first playoff appearance in school history.
Knapp now lives with his wife, Shari, in Peachtree City, hosts a radio show in south Atlanta, and will be doing color commentary for Sandy Creek High School football games beginning next week.
His diagnosis of two terminal diseases (amyloidosis/multiple myeloma) have knocked him down — but not out.
“I’ve certainly stayed in remission longer than anybody anticipated, and I’m thankful for that,” Knapp said.
His youngest son, Nile, ran for more than 3,000 yards in two seasons at Sherwood Christian and Southwest Georgia Academy before accepting a scholarship to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Nile Knapp was redshirted his freshman year, but after Rock Knapp became increasingly sick — including losing the vision in his left eye — Nile returned home to be with his father and is currently in school near Atlanta.
Rock Knapp’s first book may have surprised most, but he says his second upcoming book will be more his style. Knapp said he plans to begin writing a book of stories from his 30-year coaching career that will include his stay in Albany and his battle with cancer.
“I’ve got stories that I could write from now until I turn 60,” Knapp said. “Things that will make you cry, things that will make you laugh out loud, and things that will motivate you.”