From the time he was a small child, Dean DeVries knew he wanted to be a teacher and coach.
His grandfather, Richard Ott, coached football and softball at Creston High School in Grand Rapids, so DeVries decided he wanted to make the same type of impact on young people that his grandfather and other educators did.
Now in his senior year at Hope College, DeVries is preparing for his future career as an educator and coach.
In addition to handling punting duties for the Flying Dutchmen football team, he is assisting Kathy Kreps – wife of head Hope football coach Dean Kreps – in physical education classes at Holland High School this fall.
Next semester, DeVries will student teach in the Hamilton Public Schools before receiving his college diploma.
“I want to build relationships with kids. That's front and center,” DeVries says.
Nancy Kamstra, an associate professor of kinesiology and program director for physical education at Hope, says DeVries has been a leader in the college's physical education program.
For example, he helped implement the curriculum for Foundations of Fitness, a program offered by the college which provides support to children who are struggling with obesity.
“The students come to our campus and get active and learn about nutrition,” Kamstra said.
A two-time honoree on the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Academic Honor Roll, DeVries carries a 3.65 grade point average. He was the college's MAHPERD (Michigan Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) major of the year last spring.
Kamstra said DeVries is extremely bright.
“Dean is the kind of teacher who will make a difference,” she said. “I truly believe he was born to teach and it has been a pleasure to have him in our program.”
DeVries has been a football standout at Hope — three times earning All-MIAA accolades for his punting. He owns the Flying Dutchmen’s single-season punting average record and is on pace to become Hope’s career punting leader.
Baseball is the game DeVries plans to coach as an educator, though. Regardless of what sport he chooses to coach, DeVries said he wants to be a role model for his students.
“I want to be approachable. If (someone) has a problem, anytime, I want them to be able to come to me,” DeVries said.