Alex Dean: Student-Teaching and Playing Football
ALMA — Alex Dean is an unquestioned leader on the football field, where he plays center for the 2022-23 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) champion Alma Scots.
But he’s also a leader in the classroom — and in the classrooms he teaches in. Dean, a fifth-year senior from Shelby, Mich., splits his time away from college between the football field and Breckenridge Community Schools, where he is a student teacher.
According to Dean, football is fulfilling, but helping young students learn and grow is really where he makes his mark.
“Student-teaching and playing football at the same time was difficult, but I’m glad that I did it,” Dean said. “I was fortunate to work with a great teacher, Becky Willman, at Breckenridge, and I had outstanding students. It gave me great motivation to do well in football and it was a great experience for my future.”
Dean says he plans to eventually pursue football coaching as a career, after receiving his certification as a secondary education teacher. He feels Alma College has prepared him well to pass the exams he needs to receive his certification.
“Alma College education faculty are second to none. They care about you beyond your classwork in the here-and-now — they care about what you’re going to do 10, 15, 25 years down the line. My field instructor, Kathleen Paul, is more than just a professor to me. She’s a mentor for life,” Dean said.
The 2022-23 football season was a year of highlights for the Scots, who won their first conference championship in almost 20 years and finished the regular season undefeated. Dean, the team’s starting center, was named to the All-MIAA First Team, and in recognition of his academic accomplishments, received College Sports Communicators (CSC) All-District honors.
“To play an extra year and have all this success was really special. It’s hard to describe how much this season meant, being so close to it now. I’m sure down the road, I’ll have a better explanation,” Dean said.
Dean said he primarily chose to come to Alma College to play football, after building a family-like relationship with the team’s coaching staff. Having grown with his fellow Scots over the course of five years, he says, those relationships are bound to continue for many years after leaving Bahlke Field.
“At Alma, I found my family — this group of people who, whether in the past, present or future, will always have your back, on the field or outside of it,” Dean said. “I hope that every student here finds something similar. It’s meant the world to me.”