Retired NFL Long Snapper, Tarleton Hall of Famer,
Volunteer Track and Field Coach,
A Gentle Giant Living a Purpose-Driven Life
Before he became a Christian, James Dearth was like a Mack truck plowing through a red light – nothing was going to stop him from reaching his goal of winning football games.
James is one of the most gentle and down to earth people you could meet. Armed with 12 years of NFL experience, his strong faith in Christ and a good heart, James is an inspiration to everyone he encounters.
James was 5 when he decided he wanted to be a professional football player and he grew to love the game.
But his love grew into an obsession. In high school, James was consumed with winning. He was so intense that it was impossible to be around him at game time. James said, “If my team lost, my family knew they couldn’t talk to me because I would flip out. Nobody wanted to look at me; nobody wanted to talk to me.”
The exception was a new kid in school, Scott Emerine, a devout Christian, who went out of his way to befriend James, despite James’ resistance.
“I gave Scott no reason to want to be my friend. I tried to disprove him and disprove God because I did NOT want to change the way I was living.”
Another pivotal person entered James’ life that year – a new coach, Willie Bailey.
“He taught me so much about being a man and about being a leader on the field. I used to gripe at teammates when they made a mistake and Coach Bailey would not tolerate my negative behavior,” James says.
But James was never happy; he had a chronic sense of restlessness, like nothing was ever good enough and there was always more to be had.
The restlessness, combined with his football obsession, reached a climax that year when he suffered 11 injuries that could have maimed him for life. “I broke fingers, I tore my lower abs, I pulled both of my groins, I strained my quads, I separated cartilage from my rib cage, and I had a broken back.” James didn’t care about himself, and nothing was more important than football because he “loved it more than life itself.”
Like many of us, it usually takes someone else to point out our mistakes and move us in the right direction. For James, the key was the combination of Coach Bailey’s guidance, his injuries and the new kid, Scott Emerine.
Scott realized that James needed help. Scott also saw a lot of goodness underneath James’ tough-guy exterior and never gave up, despite James’ resistance.
Scott’s persistence, unconditional love and support opened James’ eyes to becoming a Christian. He still loved football but realized that “Football will never love you back . . . Sports will never love you back. But your family, they’ll love you back, your friends will love you back and God will never stop loving you.”
James is both a role model and a teacher. His life has been an example of how sports should be. Sports are meant to inspire and not be an object of worship. His mission now extends beyond the NFL.
James is a volunteer assistant coach with Tarleton track and field. He coaches the Texan throwers. As written on the Tarleton State University Sports Staff website, “His primary event groups are the shot put, discus throw and hammer throw. In 2021-22, Dearth had a large hand in helping Tarleton rewrite its program record books during its first full season at NCAA Division I. With Dearth serving as an assistant coach, the program broke a combined nine indoor and outdoor school records, saw 33 athletes garner All-Western Athletic conference first or second team accolades, and generated 112 new marks on its all-time indoor and outdoor top-10 record books.”
James is passionate about teaching kids how to play sports properly and how to live life properly, James does what he does best – showing kids how to be what a player ought to be: someone who is fit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Another wonderful lesson we can learn from James is the importance of family. He is head over heels in love with his wife, Laurie. He treasures their three wonderful children: Kaitlyn, Kendall and Kolton.
Instant replay of James’ guiding principles:
1. Remember that sports will never love you back but your family and friends will love you back and God will never stop loving you.
2. Be a strong leader who always strives to do the right thing.
3. See the goodness in everyone.
4. Sports are meant to inspire and be a part of life, not all of life.
5. Never let an obsession take over your life. Instead use it as an inspiration to achieve all your goals.
6. Strive to be fit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
7. Respect and honor your parents.
The Insightful Player® is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall-of-Fame Master Certified and Board-Certified Transformational Coach and the published author of Insightful Player: football pros lead a bold movement of hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her beloved father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach (as well as high school and college player). He used the game to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. Insightful Player® was created to transform culture to be inclusive, kinder, and more loving.
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