Eastlake’s Dean Klaser receives
Dr Pepper most inspirational high school football player award
Phillip Brents | Wed, Dec 30 2015 01:03 PM
There are inspired performances and then there are inspirational people. Count Eastlake High School senior Dean Klaser among the latter.
Klaser, a member of the school’s football and baseball teams, earned recognition as the 2015 Dr. Pepper Most Inspirational Player Award winner. He received the award – and a $2,000 scholarship check – at Wednesday’s National Funding Holiday Bowl game between the USC Trojans and Wisconsin Badgers at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Badgers held off the Trojans, 23-21, to post a come-from-behind victory that was not certain until three seconds remained in the game.
Klaser, who plays on both offense and defense on the EHS football squad, was selected from a pool of San Diego County student-athletes for the award, which is supported by 100.7 JackFM and the Kiwanis Club of San Diego.
The Dr Pepper Most Inspirational Player program aims to recognize a San Diego County high school football player who, through their presence, actions and words of encouragement, serves as an inspirational example to their teammates.
Klaser, who plays both running back and defensive back for the Titans, was a lifelong football player who was being recruited by college scouts. In his junior year, Klaser rushed for 473 yards, scored 10 rushing touchdowns, caught two touchdown passes to go with 169 receiving yards and, defensively, made 34 tackles and two fumble recoveries for an Eastlake squad that competed in the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs.
At the end of last football season, Klaser was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. He underwent emergency surgery, followed by nine months of chemotherapy. This season, though he was not able to compete on the school’s football team, Klaser supported his teammates by attending practice and team functions. He has since been given a clean bill of health and continues to serve as a source of inspiration for his teammates and coaches.
Klaser told the media at Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl press conference that it was “It’s great to be healthy” again.
“It’s gone – it’s all gone,” he said demonstratively, smiling.
Lee Price, Klaser’s football coach at Eastlake, nominated him for the award because, in Price’s words, Klaser “is a wonderful role model for everyone on how to tackle life’s truly difficult problems.”
“Dean is extremely inspirational to everyone who knows him,” Price explained. “Being a football coach is very stressful and losing or making a bad decision can really make your life difficult, but when you see what Dean is going through, you realize how trivial most of our problems are. His strength and attitude is something I can look on to make me put things into perspective. Everyone can learn from him on how to carry on in the most trying of circumstances. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for him and I wish I was more like him.”
The Eastlake baseball team, which reached the San Diego Section championship game, dedicated its 2015 season to Klaser. The Titans also named him team MVP for his continued inspirational support.