City living, country dreams
"SINCE MY FIRST CREATIVE writing class in high school, I knew that I wanted to write," says Dean Hybl ('89), whose second novel, Peaks in the Valley, will publish this summer. It is a sequel to his 2000 book, Crystal Clear, which was "a glimpse into life in small-town America" that followed the residents of a southern village through the challenges of their lives.
Peaks in the Valley continues this story, but Hybl says that in this book, he has "tried to illustrate the characters more to paint the unique personalities of people in a small town. Some of the characters and events in the book are based on people that I knew or things that happened to me. Some are not, but all of them are a combination of the best and worst of all things in life."
The best thing about being published, says Hybl, is getting phone calls or e-mails "from people I've not heard from in years or others praising my work."
Hybl plans to continue the series, but is not sure when, since his full-time job is time consuming. He is assistant athletics director for communication at Florida's Rollins College, where he oversees all the major publications, media relations and Web design for the Rollins athletics department (consisting of 21 Division II teams). Hybl's work at Rollins has earned national recognition for publication excellence from the College Sports Information Directors of America. This year, he took on new responsibility as adviser to Rollins' weekly student newspaper, the Sandspur.
Despite a tough schedule, working in sports media relations has its perks. From 1996 to 2001, Hybl had "front row seats" as head statistician for the Florida Citrus Bowl, (now the Capital One Bowl). For the past two years, he has been a spotter for CBS/Westwood One National Radio broadcasts of Tampa Bay Buccaneer games. Hybl was a spotter through the 2002 divisional playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers, before the Bucs went on to win the NFC conference game and Super Bowl XXXVII over the Oakland Raiders.
Hybl majored in communications with a concentration in journalism and was a member of JMU's Marching Royal Dukes, a Breeze sports writer and an intern in JMU's Sports Information Office. "Through the camaraderie of the band and the small-community feeling of the school, I always felt that you couldn't get lost at JMU," says Hybl. "Someone would always find you."
• Allison Mall ('04)