Published 12:42 pm Thursday, July 28, 2005
By By Tim Cottrell
(Editor's note: This is the 11th in a series of 17 candid interviews with managers of Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Baseball. The series will appear in each issue of the Advance through mid-August.)
One of the issues that has seemingly been beaten into the heads of Americans recently is the need for today's youth to be involved in something.
There are numerous statistics to back up this statement. Children who are involved in activities have been shown to have higher self-esteem, a lower occurrence of drug use, and make better grades in school.
Unfortunately, that is a message that is lost on some parents and youth in today's society.
But Jimmy Dean, an Alabama State Trooper and manager of the Poarch Creek Indians Babe Ruth Baseball team, sees the reasons for involvement every day and works diligently to provide an outlet for his sons and their friends to keep them off the streets..
"Back when we used to have the football banquet," said Dean, who also coaches Pee-Wee Football, "I'd always get up and make a speech. I'd tell the parents I appreciate them sending their kids out and to spend time with them. If they don't spend time with them, someone else will. It might not be someone you want, either. I see it every day."
Dean, who also assisted the Rotary Club Tigers in Cal Ripken Baseball and was an assistant coach for the 11-year-old All Star team, takes a lot of time out for youth in the Atmore area, especially 13-year-old Michael "Tank" Mitchell, who often stays with the Dean family on the weekends.
"Tank's always played ball with my son, Jon (Dean's oldest son)," he said. "He's pretty much become a part of our family. They got to spending a lot of time together. It's gotten to where when we go out to eat or to the grocery store people ask where he is if he's not with us. He's been a fixture in our house."
But Mitchell is not the only child Dean takes special care of. Many of his sons', Jon, 13, and James, 11, friends spend much of their time at the Dean household.
"Usually, in the summertime, my yard is full of kids," he said. "There's been times when I've had 12 boys asleep on the floor."
Much like many of his counterparts, Dean's involvement in sports with his sons, who are also heavily involved in rodeo, has caused him to have little time for himself.
"I played ball, I did my time, I had my fun, but it's not about me anymore," Dean said. "It's about Jon and James and any of the other kids who I can help. I just spend most of my time coaching. I've been coaching pee-wee football in Flomaton because of the league there. I don't coach my boys in rodeo because I don't know anything about it. I just provide the transportation. I don't do anything on my own. I'm always with the boys and Kim. I don't go out and hunt or fish. I don't play softball. I don't fly airplanes."
Having coached at every age level, Dean feels he knows a thing or two about what should be learned at each level.
"The younger age needs to go out there and have fun, but they need to know why they're having fun," he said. "One thing I think it's important to have with coaches is not just having good guys, but also having guys who know a thing or two about baseball or football. They can teach the kids something. With the younger ones, you just want to teach them the fundamentals and let them have fun. The older kids should know the basics. When you get up to Babe Ruth, winning should become more important. When you get there, winning matters."
Above all, Dean stressed that he hoped kids would be involved in something during their youth.
"It's so important," he said. "Being a trooper I see it every day. They need to find a way to get out and do something."