VANCOUVER, BC – It has been a difficult – and tragic – year for Christian Dean.
To say the least.
After a strong preseason, Dean suffered a fracture in his left foot the week before Vancouver’s MLS regular season opener. Three months later, just as he was close to making a return, he tore his meniscus in training, which effectively ended his season.
That was the difficult part, as he wrote about in a candid article on whitecapsfc.com.
Then came the tragedy.
Dean’s father suddenly passed away this summer. It’s the type of year you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. And it’s the type of year that puts everything into perspective.
It certainly did that for Dean.
Despite the hardships, the 23-year-old has never hesitated to give back to the community. And on Tuesday, he was recognized by being named Whitecaps FC’s Humanitarian of the Year, which highlights a player that has shown an active willingness to give back to the community by volunteering and participating in club and community initiatives beyond the regular call of duty.
“He’s had a lot of heartbreak this season,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “No player wants to be injured. He was right on the verge of playing in that first game and picked up an injury, then he reinjured himself and deals with the sad loss of his father, which was heartbreaking. Anyone who has gone through that will understand.”
“And he lost his way a little bit,” Robinson added. “But now he’s back, he’s managed to refocus, and everything that he will go on to do at this football club will gladly be seen by his father, who will be watching down on him.”
Dean made over 20 community appearances this season – many of which were at BC Children’s Hospital. It’s a place he holds close to his heart.
During a visit in July with members from English club Crystal Palace, Dean spent nearly three hours at the hospital, which included an additional 30 minutes to catch up with a patient he met in 2014 who had just relapsed. He has actually developed several close relationships with past and present patients at BC Children’s Hospital, including a woman named Kieran who passed away late in 2014. Dean subsequently put her initials on his cleats.
That says it all about what these relationships mean to him.
“He likes the city, he loves the community, and he likes getting out and meeting people,” Robinson said. “Whether he was injured or not, I’m sure he would have won the award.”
PREVIOUS WINNERS: WHITECAPS FC HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
2015: Paolo Tornaghi
2014: David Ousted
2013: Jordan Harvey
2012: Omar Salgado
2011: Jeb Brovsky