Parker Dean kept a busy schedule while a student at Western. Athletically, Dean played tennis in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. In addition, he excelled in the classroom and served as the president of Western’s National Honor Society during his senior year.
Dean was happy to soak up as many experiences as possible. He encourages younger students to do the same.
“There are no re-dos for high school, make the most of your time,” he said. “Go out and try out for that certain team, go out and make new friends with someone you don’t know, but most importantly, have fun.”
Dean certainly had a lot of fun with the Panthers. He played No. 1 doubles in tennis and he helped the basketball team win Hoosier Conference titles the last two years. But baseball was his primary sport — and the Purdue recruit closed his Panther career with a bang.
Dean helped Western post a 27-3 record and win the Class 3A Sectional 20 championship. He batted .419 with 11 doubles, both team highs, and four home runs. He drove in 26 runs and scored 32 runs. As a pitcher, he had a 6-1 record with a 1.77 ERA.
The Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association named Dean its District E Player of the Year and also named him to the North team for the Indiana North-South All-Star Series, which is set for June 24-26 at Indiana Wesleyan.
“Only 18 players in Western history have been an Indiana All-Star and to be with that great company, it feels amazing,” he said. “As a freshman you see pictures of all the Western greats on the walls of the halls in school and to know my picture will now be up there soon, freshman Parker Dean is super proud.”
Dean is headed to Purdue where he plans to study professional flight and play baseball. He has a career goal of becoming a commercial pilot or flying for UPS or FedEx.
Dean recently took time to reflect on his time as a Panther.
Q: The baseball season just ended and I’m sure it’s still fresh. What are the moments that stood out to you this season, good or bad?
A: The sectional championship was one I will remember forever. [Western beat rival Northwestern 6-1.] We worked so hard in the offseason and all year for that moment. The whole season stood out to me, my senior year was by far the most fun year I have ever had in baseball. The bond and brotherhood that all of us players had was unmatched and I am proud to call them my family forever.
Q: What’s the biggest game you’ve played in and what was the atmosphere and tension like?
A: Definitely the sectional [championship] this year, it was packed. The stands were filled and people brought lawn chairs to sit down the base lines and even in the outfield. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It felt like the whole Western community was there to support us and that’s why I am proud to call myself a Western Panther. The whole community and everyone who supported us was apart of this great season and helped us win a lot of games.
Q: As a pitcher, is there a game that stands out as the most difficult win you ever earned? What made that difficult and what satisfaction did you get from that?
A: I would have to say it was against Hamilton Heights in a conference game this year. I was in relief and had to come in during the third inning in a jam and luckily I got out of it and pitched amazing the rest of the game. I also helped on the offensive side by hitting a home run. It felt amazing to pitch good and hit good in a game against a tough conference opponent.
Q: Who is the toughest batter you faced?
A: Either Tate Mullens from Northwestern or Ryan Schummer from Lafayette Central Catholic. Both are amazing hitters and have the ability to get deep into counts and make me throw a lot of pitches. Both also have the power to hit the ball out of the park so as a pitcher I have to throw around the zone and keep them off balanced to hopefully get them out.
Q: On the other side of the plate, who is the toughest pitcher you’ve faced?
A: Ben Mazur from Lafayette Central Catholic. Ben is a kid with a bright future who will play Division 1 baseball in the future. Ben has an electric fastball and amazing off speed. He pitched an amazing game against us in the conference championship, unfortunately we lost, but Ben threw a gem.
[LCC beat Western 6-1 behind Mazur’s two-hitter.]
Q: You played three sports at Western. What made you want to be involved every season?
A: The memories, friendships and lifelong lessons I knew I was going to gain. Sports can only take you to a certain point in life, but the lessons you learn will take you much farther. Since my freshman year I have grown as a leader, student and athlete all because of the amazing coaches and friends I have had along the way with me.
Q: In any sport, who has been the best teammates you’ve had and how did he help you or the team?
A: Every single one of my teammates. I’m thankful for all the friendships and memories I have made along the way. But if I had to pick one, it would be my brother, Mitchell. Mitchell has been there for me through everything and he is my best friend. We push each other in athletics and the weight room and he has made me so much better. It’s so sad to know we will never play [again] on the same team for any sports, but I am excited to see how successful he will be as he takes on his senior year. And I am so proud of the great young man and athlete he is becoming.
[Mitchell Dean is a rising senior. He has committed to play baseball at Louisville.]
Q: Who have been your biggest sports influences?
A: My entire family. No matter if they were in attendance or not, my entire family has been cheering me on since I entered sports at a young age. And I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them. After any win, sporting event, or great accomplishment, my phone blows up with texts and calls from my family congratulating me and telling me how proud they are of me. I can’t repay them for the amount of love and support they have showed me in everything I do, but I just hope they all know I appreciate them and love them so much.
Q: Speaking of family, your mom [Mindy née Moore] played on Kokomo’s 1991 girls basketball team that made it to the semistate and set the foundation for the 1992 and ‘93 state title teams. Does that give her athletic bragging rights in the family?
A: Yes. My mom was a three-sport varsity athlete, she played volleyball, basketball and track. All of my mom’s side of the family played varsity sports. Also, my great grandfather, my mom’s grandpa, was a professional baseball player for the Cardinals organization. So I definitely got my athletic ability from my mom’s side of the family.