New Youth Sports director back to where it began

A military child, Jim Dey grew up on Fort Meade, where he attended school and participated in Youth Sports. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

Jim Dey grew up participating in Youth Sports at Fort Meade.

Dey was 11 when his family moved to the installation. His father, retired Maj. Michael Dey, was assigned to Fort Meade as his last duty station in the summer of 1985.

Now, Dey is the new director of the very same organization where he learned to kick a soccer ball and shoot hoops.

Prior to replacing Jesse Miller, who retired as the Youth Sports & Fitness director in January, Dey was an assistant director for four years.

Dey is responsible for the oversight of four service areas in Youth Sports: team sports, individual sports, fitness and nutrition, and outreach. He manages a four-member staff and is currently looking to fill two assistant director vacancies.

CYS sports are geared to children ages 3 to 18. Currently, the division serves about 1,300 youths.

In his new role, Dey said he will work to promote two Army programs that emphasize overall fitness and conditioning in young people.

“The Army is broadening its focus to emphasize fitness and nutrition,” he said. “Obesity is a growing problem and many who are obese are children.”

Dey said the Army is tackling the issue of obesity because military children may one day become prospective Soldiers.

Jim Dey (far right), Fort Meade’s new Youth Sports and Fitness director with Child and Youth Services, meets with sports assistant Michal Lanni (far left); Mahlon Thomas (center), a sports associate; and sports assistant James Allen on Saturday at the Youth Center. Dey oversees the garrison’s individual and team sports program for children and teens. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

Focusing On Fitness

One program, Funfit, began in January and is targeted to ages 3 to 5. It introduces youngsters to the concept of exercise through fun activities. Funfit is offered monthly from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Youth Center at 909 Ernie Pyle St.

The second program, Pre-Season Conditioning Program, is targeted to ages 5 to 18 and will start March 9. It emphasizes cardiovascular and muscular conditioning, strength and flexibility and will help young people prepare for the spring sports season.

The Pre-Season Conditioning Program will be offered Fridays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. So far, 44 youths are registered.

Dey said that because he grew up in the installation’s Youth Sports program, he feels he is “a bridge” linking the Army’s prior emphasis on individual and team sports to the current focus on fitness and nutrition.

He said fitness and conditioning training is not competitive like team sports, but helps young people develop healthy habits for a lifetime of physical well-being.

CYS will continue to offer individual and team sports including soccer, basketball flag football, tennis, bowling, track and Ready, Set, Run — a 12-week course that helps youths train to run a 5K race.

As a child, Dey attended Pershing Hill Elementary School and MacArthur Middle School. A graduate of Meade High, where he played varsity soccer and participated in indoor and outdoor track, Dey said he has always had a passion for sports.

“I always enjoyed what I did in sports,” said Dey, 44.

Dey is a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College, where he played junior college soccer and began coaching boys varsity soccer at Meade High School.

After college, Bo Lepinsky, a former Youth Sports & Fitness director, hired Dey as a field maintenance staff member in August 2002. Dey worked in the position for about six years.

He said he looked to continue working at Fort Meade outside of CYS because there was no room for upward mobility. In May 2009, Dey was the program manager for Fort Meade’s Hired Program, which prepared youths for employment by providing internships and part-time work experience.

He worked in the position for four years until he became an assistant director of Youth Sports in 2014.

Sports in Life

Dey said participating in sports is important for children’s social and emotional development.

“It’s a cliché, but sports does teach you about life,” he said. “In Youth Sports, especially for the Army, you meet people from all around the world and from different cultures.

“You have to find a common ground and learn to work together. It also builds your confidence in yourself and you learn to work as a team. That’s all going to be important when you go out into the real world.”

Dey’s wife, Georgia, also works for CYS as an administrative assistant in Parent Central Services. The couple met through work and are the parents of Jimmie, 6, and Marilyn, 2. The family resides in Odenton.

Dey said he is grateful for his new position and credits the four directors who served before him — Lepinsky, Matt Sagartz, Hunter Davis and Jesse Miller — for the example they set as managers.

“They were all amazing people,” Dey said. “They all brought different assets to the program. I learned a great deal from all of them.”

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