His love for competition and of crunching numbers landed Dean plenty of opportunities to cover high school sports teams in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nationally. Over the years, the freelance writer of more than three decades has covered it all at the prep level.
But he has no desire to stop there. In fact, he was able to scrape up the credentials he needed to get he and his wife into an NAIA football game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. While there Dean interviewed fans, student managers, coaches, athletes and a former Kansas City Chief as he wrote a story about his experience for his blog. His wife took the photos for the story.
Dean has posted high school and FBS football rankings on his blog and penned a feature or two for the blog in his spare time. Ideally, he hopes to land a gig covering football, basketball and almost any sport at the NAIA, FCS or FBS level.
Although sports writing has taken up much of his writing time, Dean discovered he had a knack for covering hard news, especially on the crime blotter. While in Waverly, Nebraska, he covered a police chase that began as the deputy involved was on his way to work, several incidents of vandalism, and drug arrests.
Some publications hire photographers to take the photos they need for the stories their reporters post. But in many cases, Dean found himself grabbing a camera, heading to a game or interview, and getting the shot he desired.
He became fond of capturing sports and news action on film, or a card, as is the case today. In fact, Dean hopes to get back out on the field, court, and diamond with his Canon and cashing in on his photography career.
Crunching numbers is what opened up writing doors for Dean to begin with. He still loves calculating sports statistics and does it regularly. Growing up a Nebraska football and basketball fan, he often found himself crunching scoring averages, winning percentages, and anything else that captured his interest.
While researching a gridiron battle for the MaxPreps Rivalry Series, for example, Dean strives to attain the won-loss record of the series and the scores of every contest played between the two foes. Should he fail to gather that information, the story is incomplete to Dean. The numbers tell their own story and he is willing to spend hours Googling until he finds what he needs.
Trying to balance the books and life, Dean paid for college as he continued his education. Eventually work became a necessity and he was unable to complete his degree.
Without a formal education to guide him, Dean took on the challenge of becoming a self-taught sports journalist. His journey began in the mid-1980s when he covered the hometown Flyers in Humphrey, Nebraska, and continues today with his part-time position at MaxPreps.com.
In between, Dean wrote feature stories, sports columns, game coverage articles, compiled sports statistics, ranked football and basketball teams, wrote team preview capsules, and even tackled a joint project in which he and two of his peers picked the winners of all of the FBS Football Bowl Games.
Dean has started a sports blog in which he gets to post whatever he desires in his spare time. His blog covers athletics at the high school, NAIA, and FBS levels. In all, Dean wrote for four newspapers, two sports publications, and a pair of sports websites.
Dean has been with MaxPreps since 2007 when he wrote a sports roundup in Kansas and Missouri. He also researched every football and boys basketball program in the two states before writing separate articles and ranking the top teams in the Show-Me and Sunflower States.
His role has changed over the years and eventually Dean expanded his responsibilities back into Nebraska where his career began. Since then, however, he has covered coaches and athletes in all sports nationally.
Besides posting a weekly Top 10 in Nebraska these days, Dean has also taken on projects like the MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard, MaxPreps Rivalry Series, Whataburger Heart and Soul of the Game campaign, and the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign.
He has also taken on some of the administrative duties attached to these projects like linking the stories to team pages, and doing some editing.
When Dean joined the staff at the weekly newspaper in Waverly, Nebraska, he had no writing experience when it came to politics. Through covering city council meetings, however, he soon realized he had a knack for informing local citizens of the comings and goings of their representatives.
At the time of his employment, the Waverly City Council discussed the results of a water study, worked hard at beautifying its park so the community could earn the title, 'Tree City U.S.A,' and enacted an ordinance to improve Waverly's chances of earning the title.
On occasion, Dean worked as a pipeline between the citizens of Waverly and its mayor and city council members after he sat down, interviewed the local politicians, and wrote several pieces for the newspaper.
Having come from a family of business owners, Dean jumped at any and all opportunities to write stories promoting business and businesses.
While working for 'The News' in Waverly, Nebraska, he produced copy promoting new area businesses, one man's journey to purchase a windmill business, and a cocoa shortage in the late 90s and how it affected businesses, including a local candy manufacturer.
The freelancer of more than three decades spent his early years in the Sunflower State writing plenty of sports copy. He also introduced new businesses to Johnson County Kansans through the advertorials he penned for 'Sun Publications' in Overland Park, Kansas.
In the 1990s, Dean took accounting classes, earning a perfect score for one quarter. He also worked in the office at Countryside Home, a senior living center in Madison, Nebraska. His responsibilities included running payroll and creating documents while also working as a CNA and in the Activities Department.
Just as Dean's writing career was starting to take off, he wrote a couple of agriculture stories for one of the local daily newspapers - and he was absolutely thrilled for the opportunities. But soon sportswriting took up all of his free time, and that is the direction he moved going forward.
Agriculture, however, has always been a part of Dean's DNA. He may not have grown up on the farm, but most of his friends did. His father sold Case International Harvester (Case IH) farm equipment for more than half a century and purchased land and farmed on the side for more than three decades.
Dean was employed by his father and an uncle who went in on the dealership together. As a youngster, he ran errands and did odd jobs before working in the parts department as he got older.
Along with assisting farmers, Dean checked in parts orders, completed inventory counts, as needed, and contacted farmers to let them know when their special orders came in.
Dean helped with the harvest and tore up the field as well. He was also known to spend the summer on a friend's farm throwing hay bales as a youngster. Dean may have woke up within the city limits every morning, but he was living life on the farm.
As a working member of one of the largest Case IH dealerships nationally, Dean was fortunate to be around some of the great ag minds during one of Case IH's best and yet trying times due to the farming debacle of the 1980s.
Today Dean has a close connection working for CNH Industrial. His nephew works as a Product Manager for the Ag-Power that was formed in 2013 and lists Case IH as one of its 12 brands.
In the past, MaxPreps joined forces with the Army National Guard in honoring 100 high schools nationally that won a state championship in boys and girls soccer, volleyball, football, and boys and girls basketball collectively and finished the season ranked high in MaxPreps' national rankings.
Representatives from both organizations then traveled the country honoring each school with a 'MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard' pep rally and a national ranking trophy and a nationally ranked rafter banner to hang high in their gymnasium.
Dean's first responsibility was to write a story introducing the high school and team to the Tour of Champions. Then, following the pep rally, he edited a story that was written by one of the representatives that attended the rally. Dean laid out each of the 200 stories and linked them to the team's pages on MaxPreps.com.
Since 2016, MaxPreps has been partnering with PledgeIt and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in its fight against childhood cancer. Last fall, Dean took over writing the weekly updates of the Touchdowns Against Cancer campaign which allows high school football programs and individual athletes to compete for bragging rights by going out and earning money through pledges.
Dean then wrote a post-campaign story honoring the individual and team winners of the contest.
In the fall of 2018, MaxPreps and Whataburger collaborated in honoring three high school football coaches that were known to go above and beyond the call of duty for their athletes. Dean's first responsibility for the 'Heart and Soul of the Game presented by Whataburger' campaign was to read through thousands of nominations from across the country and select 15 nominees to pass onto Whataburger.
Once Whataburger selected its Top 3 coaches, Dean conducted research on each winner and interviewed players, coaches, and administration associated with each of the winning coaches before writing three feature stories based on why each coach was selected.
In an attempt to get more traction for its football and boys and girls basketball postseason brackets last fall and winter, MaxPreps called on Dean to write three or four paragraphs informing fans in each state where and when the state championships would take place and link each of the brackets into the stories. The two projects included about 100 stories and hundreds of linked brackets collectively.
MaxPreps and the Army National Guard also honored 10 of the top high school football rivalries nationally each fall. Beginning in June or July, Dean researched each rivalry looking for the series won-loss records of each school, the rivalry name, the history of the rivalry, and many of the traditions associated with the gridiron battles.
While researching the rivalries he let his fingers do the walking online and made several phone calls to the athletic directors, coaches, and players associated with the big game. Dean then wrote one complimentary story about each school's successes in the series and another that summarized the rivalry, revealing many of its trends and traditions.
Each rivalry game was scheduled for a different week of the season so MaxPreps and the ARNG could attend the pregame festivities and, of course, the game itself. Videos of the contest and interviews were then posted to MaxPreps.com.