Notable youth soccer coach answers 10 Questions


Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar recently presented youth soccer coach James Dean with a Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition for his coaching efforts.

“My name is James Dean — I have a wife, Monika, and five children: Jaydin, Allexis “Lexi,” Evin, Tj and Jackson. They are active wild animals and we’re at a field or a rink pretty much every day most of the year — love that. I could talk about them all day. Monika is an amazing woman, parent, partner and artist.

“I’ve been lucky enough to coach youth sports here in Encinitas and fortunate to be around not only some of the most amazing kids, but parents as well! I love coaching and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the best way to not only coach the game but the kids themselves. I think the opportunity to coach can be so much more than just the game. It’s always been important to me to keep focus on the kids and their experience.

“My grandparents, Earl and Florence Dean, Van and Ann Staats, were in Encinitas fairly early. Earl had a construction company and did a lot of grading throughout Encinitas and helped build the Diegueno Little League field, which I think is cool. My family had a team, Earl Dean and Sons. My other grandfather retired as a conductor here with Amtrak.

“My godparents, the Thorntons, had a flower business up next to the Eckes were I spent a lot of time as a kid. I credit their son Todd for being a huge influence on me growing up. Plus, he got me into punk rock at age 11, which I cherish!”

1: What brought you to Encinitas?

I was born here, raised on VG donuts and our sand. My grandparents, Earl and Florence Dean, got here in 1942 though, so they kind of beat me on any cool local status.

2: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

I’m sure there’s always room for improvement whenever discussing attractive beach towns in order to facilitate and please both tourists and locals, but to keep it light I’d say just remove the full bike lane on Second Street. It’s being abused!

3: Who or what inspires you?

Easy one — my kids and children in general. There’s so much more in kids that we as parents, family, friends and even children themselves often can’t see. By using the activities they like, you can improve a child’s heart, feelings, behaviors, emotions and, hopefully, their future in some positive way.

Monika is also a huge inspiration. Her kind heart, her smile and how she treats others is always comforting and inspirational. She’s always willing to help others, and is one funny woman. I hope I’m scoring points here!

Our ocean inspires me as well and I can’t wait to get back in it. Oh, and a good breakfast burrito — that can inspire an entire day!

4: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

I love to laugh and play music so maybe comedians Brian Regan, Amy Schumer, and Will Farrell. Not sure I’d survive, but a laughing fit of death wouldn’t be the worst way to go. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (Black Keys), Jack White or Gary Clark Jr. so we could play some music, and probably my grandparents Earl and Florence, so I could see them again.

5: What are your favorite movies?

On Any Sunday was a childhood favorite. Also: Elf, Ace Ventura, Decline of the Western Civilization, Planes Trains and Automobiles. Maybe Shawshank Redemption, or Warriors.

6: What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do, and what’s the most rewarding?

Raising or coaching kids of different ages, personalities, demeanors, and skills can be a challenge at times, but if you take the extra time to listen to them, understand who they are or what makes them tick, you can often find things to be easier than imagined. I have always been very comfortable with being a father; however, it’s mind boggling how your own household changes as kids grow, and you have to adjust quick!

7: What do you do for fun?

For the last four years my health has ended all physical activities I’ve loved to do. Surfing, softball, hockey, skateboarding, etc. — but luckily I still get to watch kids play.

Monika and I draw and paint, including some banners for Arts Alive, portraits, art for bands, logos and more. I try to make cards for my players with drawings to add a little extra personalized appreciation for their efforts and behavior.

I also like to play games with my kids but they rarely let me win anything.

8: What is it that you most dislike?

Heavy topic. I’ve always been puzzled how generation after generation follows the same negative paths. I’m talking about drug and alcohol abuse and the depression epidemic. Obviously our government has a huge impact on these topics, and we’ll never get their support, so clearly the only way to stop or help these issues is with parents and children period. Unfortunately, we do very little to help the next generation and we often facilitate them.

The depression issue, though starting to get more attention, is way beyond troubling as well. The fear for adults to be open about their issues and the children who suffer from it are clueless to what’s going on with them. I’d like to get involved in something here as well. There’s more we can do.

I also have an issue with the amount of homework that children have. Enough is enough. We can raise great productive and smart children without frying their brains and minimalizing their lives to mainly schoolwork. Families already battle to spend quality time together. We’ve lost focus on that in many ways and family can be one of the most important things your entire life.

9: What do you hope to accomplish next?

I’m just focused on trying to heal right now. I made the mistake of trying to work through a back injury which has completely changed my life. I loved my job and never thought working through pain would have such a snowball effect on my health. Not working now, not playing sports or surfing is quite the mental game but, thankfully, I’ve got a great group of people keeping me positive.

I’m currently building an Etsy shop though and finding some more ways to help others while I’m on my downtime. I’d like to see if I can speak to kids at schools regarding some of the heavy issues and hope to accomplish something there.

10: What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Generic of course, but treat people the way you want to be treated. Try to enjoy the good things as much as possible.

I also try to tell my kids if they don’t like drama or trouble then don’t go out and cause it themselves.