Braves Baseball Coach of the Week: Doug Spence, Sandy Plains Baseball

Doug Spence is nominee for Braves Coach of the Week.

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Doug Spence is nominee for Braves Coach of the Week.

The beloved coach earned 51% of the votes

A local realtor, Florida native Doug Spence has lived in Marietta for more than two decades. According to Kristin Sweitzer, a parent to one of Coach Spence’s players on his Sandy Plains Baseball league team, he’s been making an impact on the community every step of the way.

“Doug Spence has a profound impact on the kids he coaches in the Sandy Plains Baseball League,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Not only does he love the game of baseball, he is dedicated to fostering that same love of the game with his team.”

The proud son of a USAF Special Operations veteran and school teacher, Spence is married with three children of his own. When not spending time with his family or on the job, the talented Florida native is giving his players the care and attention they need to succeed.

“Doug cares deeply for each of the kids, regardless of their skill level,” Sweitzer said. “He works with each of them where they are and adjusts his approach as needed for each child’s personality. My son, who is a beginner and is shy by nature has thrived under Doug’s leadership. Doug is kind, patient and sets the right expectations for his team.”

It’s that attention to detail and all of those little moments that earned Spence the adoration of his peers — as well as 51% of the votes for Braves’ Coach of the Week.

“He promotes teamwork, sportsmanship and celebrates every little win,” Sweitzer said. “He encourages the kids to set goals and to grow, regardless of whether it results in a win for the team. I am so grateful for the confidence he has built in my son and for so many of the other players. I can only hope that my son is fortunate to continue to be coached by leaders as outstanding as Doug has been in his early baseball experience.”

For Spence, the whole experience has been more than a little humbling.

“I was so grateful when I learned I was nominated for this, but to win is just amazing!” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s humbling to know that my dedication to the development of young players is recognized and appreciated by so many people.”

As the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week, Spence will receive a $100 Kroger gift card and a baseball signed by an Atlanta Braves player. But it’s clear that it has never been about the perks for Spence. It’s about helping the community.

“I started coaching about 20 years ago at East Marietta National Little League (EMNLL) when my oldest son started playing,” Spence said. “The league needed help, so I volunteered to give it a shot. I loved baseball as a young kid but ended up playing other sports as I got older. Once I started coaching, I quickly fell in love with it and haven’t stopped since. I was fortunate enough, early in my career, to learn from some great youth baseball coaches at EMNLL. I went on to coach travel teams in the area and even worked with some former pro players in various capacities. Realizing the potential impact I could have on young players, I took coaching seriously and had an unwavering desire to be best coach I could. I studied the game and coaching relentlessly, and even earned a certification from the American Baseball Coaches Association.”

After joining Marietta’s Eastside Christian School as a first base coach in 2010, Spence was promoted to head coach the following the season — where he led the program for the next decade.

Spence’s impact on the local community expanded beyond the private school however. The passionate team leader spent his spare time coaching Cobb County’s Wheeler High School Fall league team and multiple 17U teams under the East Cobb Baseball league. In 2018, he decided to take his talents to the nearby Sandy Plains.

“Once my youngest son was old enough to start playing baseball in 2018, I started coaching at Sandy Plains,” he said. “This season I coached both my son’s 8U team and my daughter’s 6U team. Both teams were the Mets this season, so our house was all about the Mets this spring! My daughter’s 6U team is hybrid coach pitch and tee ball and they are all about having fun. These kids are out there just beginning to fall in love with the game and helping them develop basic skills for hitting and fielding is extremely rewarding.”

It’s a sport that, in Spence’s opinion, teaches important life lessons — ones that are incredibly empowering for Cobb County’s youth.

“One of the biggest reasons I love coaching baseball at Sandy Plains, and working with young players, is that this game mirrors life in many ways,” he said. “I always teach my players that it’s ok to make mistakes. I never want them to be afraid to make a mistake. I encourage them to try to make plays and follow their instincts on the field. Baseball is an extremely difficult sport to play, and to play it well consistently requires an incredible amount of hard work and focus. So, to try to eliminate the fear of making a mistake, I constantly remind them that, just like in life, it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s what you do after you make a mistake that defines you as a player, and as a person.”

To any potential players out there or parents whose children are considering trying out for their local team, Spence said don’t hesitate — take the leap of faith.

“I’m honored to play a part, no matter how big or small, in the development of our youth to teach the game of baseball, build character and confidence, and instill a winning attitude in the youth of the community,” he said. “It’s extremely rewarding to hear from parents about how baseball has had such a positive impact in their children’s lives. And for any parents that may be on the fence about getting their son or daughter into baseball, I would say you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so don’t hesitate!”