At the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season there was only one certainty for baseball coach George Horton; the team needed to be tweaked. Not a complete overhaul, just some adjustments. As a result of Horton’s new experimentations with the lineup and his staff, the club finds themselves in an unlikely position, on the cusp of the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska coming only one game short in the Super-Regional.
Some of the moves made to make this team better was to change some members of the coaching staff, and sometimes when a coach looks to make a change they don’t have to look far. One of the newest members of Horton’s Heroes is pretty familiar with the university grounds in Eugene.
Dean Stiles was born and raised in Salem, Ore. He received his Bachelors Degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1982. Stiles then earned his Secondary Education credential from Oregon in 1986. He began his collegiate baseball career (infield) at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., then later transferred to the University of Oregon to finish his baseball and educational career.
After his time as a student and ballplayer ended, Stiles was certain of two things. The first was that he had no plans to walk away from the game of baseball. The second, he had come to call the city of Eugene home, and had no desire to leave. However, an opportunity came knocking that would pull him away from the City of Ducks…for a little while anyway.
Coach Stiles found his way north, then way south. First he coached at Tualitin High School (Ore.), Crook County High School (Ore.), Summit High School (Ore.), and then St. Joseph High School down in California. Stiles served as a high school administrator, teacher, and coach in Oregon and California for more than 20 years.
Stiles has headed several 16U Junior Olympic teams and NTIS U.S.A. Baseball teams. He also worked in the minor league system as the General Manager for the Bend Bandits of the Western Baseball League. Stiles also helped to create and coach the Bend Elks of the West Coast League.
In 2011, the city he hoped to never leave had an opportunity for him, but first, Stiles spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons helping build the Ducks baseball program in its infancy stages as an administrative assistant. Stiles responsibilities included helping with the Oregon baseball camps and clinics.
As 2011 rolled around, the blood, sweat and tears that Stiles put in to helping create a new baseball program finally paid off, he was offered his ultimate baseball dream job.
Lane Community College in Eugene had a head coaching vacancy, and Stiles was the lead candidate for the job, he graciously accepted. In sports there are some people that are just meant to coach, and Dean Stiles is one of those people.
In his one and only season at LCC, Stiles vision and coaching helped lead the Titans to a 26-20 overall record and they went on to advance to the quarterfinals of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Tournament after earning the playoff spot by way of a second place finish in the South Division with a 19-11 record.
In addition, Stiles also coached Darrell Hunter to all-NWAACC first team honors, as the first baseman led the Titans batting .328 with 29 RBIs and 10 home runs.
As the 2012 collegiate baseball season approached, there was a bit of conflict in the Eugene collegiate baseball world. Coach Stiles was at Lane Community College preparing an ironclad game plan to make another run at the NWAACC Tournament. However, four and a half miles to the northwest over at the UO, Coach Horton was plotting and preparing the ultimate pitch to pull Stiles away from Lane and bring him back to the Ducks one more time. Well, Coach Stiles is now at Oregon, so it is assumed that Horton’s pitch was a pretty good one.
So, what is it exactly makes this, and Dean Stiles, a great story?
Stiles returns to the university that he never wanted to leave. With his help and coaching, the Ducks made it to the College World Series Super Regional round, hosted at PK park over this past weekend. But what makes this remarkable is that Dean Stiles left his head coaching position at Lane to coach at Oregon…for free.
When Horton announced Dean Stiles would be coming back to Oregon as an assistant coach, Stiles would be appointed the Oregon baseball program’s Volunteer Assistant Coach. Let’s face it; there are few people that would leave a successful coaching career to go coach for free.
Dean Stiles was brought in to help make an already excellent pitching staff into an error-less machine. As a result of his help and instruction, the Ducks ended the season with the best pitching stats in the Pac-12 Conference. They possess the best ERA (3.02), wins (42), saves (21) and strikeouts (417). There are many coaches that would demand some kind of compensation for those numbers, but not Dean Stiles.
The Ducks found themselves with the chance to make history, poised to reach the College World Series for only the second time in school history, but alas fell to Kent State Monday night 3-2. Their Volunteer Assistant Coach Dean Stiles was there with his team and his pitching staff, the best staff the conference had to offer. Coach Stiles began this season not making a dime as part of the Ducks staff. Stiles ended the season having not made a dime for his incredible work on one of the top pitching staffs in the country.
The Lane Titans, Stile’s former team and last paying gig, finished third this season at 23-17 and failed to advance in the NWAACC Tournament. It is unknown whether or not Stiles could have won a title with Lane this year if he had not gone to Oregon. What is certain is that he now has the opportunity to win a Division I CWS title in part because he helped mold one of the best pitching staffs in America.
With his remarkable work, impressive resume, positive attitude, and admirable yeomen work turning a good pitching staff into an elite one; it won’t be long before he heads his own Division I program…for an actual paycheck.