It didn’t take Hemingford track and field coach Josh Dean long to realize the profession he intended to go into after graduating from college wasn’t quite what he wanted to do.
Dean, who starred in athletics at Bridgeport High School, went to college for a much different profession.
“I worked as a physician assistant at Gering Family Practice through Regional West. I worked there for a year,” he said.
It was while he was waiting for his license to be a physician assistant that he found his true calling, Dean said.
“Before I started as a physician assistant, I had to wait for all the background checks and licensing to clear, so I actually did some local substitute teaching,” he said. “During that time, I was having a blast with the kids. I was having a blast with the staff — that was primarily in Bridgeport. It really got me thinking, ‘Am I on the right career path?’ So, I gave it a shot for a year and decided I wanted to make a career change, and I figured I might as well do it right now.”
When he decided to make that career change, Dean found a program that would put him on the fast track to the classroom. The University of Nebraska — Kearney has a program called transitional teaching.
“So, if you have enough content-area coursework done, you can go right into teaching in a need area,” he said. “Alliance was in need of a science teacher, and with my physician assistant degree, my BS was in biological sciences through the University of Nebraska, so I had a lot of content area in the sciences.”
Dean said the program essentially allowed him to go straight to student teaching.
“It was a good program, and I had a lot of great guidance,” he said. ”The vice principal there, (Alan) Van Tilburg, was very influential on my growth as a teacher. He checked in on me a lot and really got me down the right path.”
Dean said Van Tilburg and the science department really helped prepare him for his teaching career.
“They really gave me a lot of support and helped me find my feet as a teacher,” he said. “I knew the content, but I needed the things like classroom management, and just the ins and outs of being an educator. (As an educator) you’re more than just a teacher. That’s what’s been really rewarding as a teacher is you can fill a lot of different roles in one.”
Dean starred in athletics at Bridgeport High School. His love for sports fostered through his athletic career at Bridgeport helped nudge him toward being a coach as well.
“My skill level wasn’t good enough for the Division I level, and I recognized that,” he said. “I was ready to move on with my career, and that’s the path I took. I always really enjoyed being around sports, so I also wanted to do coaching as well. It was another way to really have an impact on people.”
Dean’s first teaching gig was at Alliance High School, where he said he had a lot of great mentors to help ease him into coaching.
He didn’t coach anything in the fall in his first year of teaching. He got his first coaching position as an assistant junior high basketball coach under Steve Gullion.
“I learned a lot from him. He’s a great basketball coach, and just a great coach in general,” Dean said. “He really knows how to form relationships with the kids and uphold the respect between the players and the coaches.”
After teaching and serving as an assistant coach at Hemingford High School, the opportunity came up for Dean to take the head coaching position for the track and field teams. Next fall, he will begin his first season as the head football coach, as well.
The coaching profession is a year-round job, so Dean said he’s already gotten a start on getting his football team ready for next season.
“We’re trying to get summer camps underway. We’re starting to get summer workouts planned. We’re working together with the basketball and wrestling staff as well as volleyball. We’re all trying to work together because we want to get the kids rolling into the summer the right way, and get us rolling into the next year the right way.
"It takes time to be good. We don’t want to be cyclic here. We want to be consistent, and we understand that the only consistent thing there is, is the time that you put in. You have to put in time. The (seasons have) overlapped a little bit. My focus is definitely track right now, but I would be neglecting my football duties if I didn’t start some things now as well.”
WATCH NOW: Star-Herald Sports Editor Jeff Van Patten visited with Hemingford Track and Field Coach Josh Dean about the season and coaching.