The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Braves are teaming up all summer long to honor local youth baseball and softball coaches for making a positive impact on their communities through our Braves Coach of the Week series. Having earned over half of the votes, as well as commendations from multiple parents, Coweta County’s Dustin Rutledge is the latest community leader to make the cut.
The Senoia Athletic Association’s 6U Tribe softball team earned a positive 7-4 record under Rutledge this season. As an assistant coach, Rutledge’s 6U All Star Team took home two tournament victories and advanced to the USSSA state tournament.
Rutledge’s dedication to the community isn’t found just on the field. A sergeant in the Fulton County Marshal Department, Rutledge spends his days serving and protecting. The highly-praised baseball coach most recently made headlines for training Muscogee County Deputy Greg Countryman, who, 11Alive reported, saved two-year-old twins from drowning in a swimming pool on May 16.
“Coach Dustin is an amazing person, and I’m not sure how he does it all,” Abby Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “During the day he works as a Sergeant Fulton County Marshal Department. Then 10 out of the 12 months a year he coaches Little League Baseball at the Senoia Athletic Association.”
“Coach Dustin is such an amazing coach,” another parent said, “The way he forms a team and the bond he has for his team is unmatched! His love for the game is passed along to his team each season! It take a special person to coach 6U baseball and do a great job at it!”
For Sgt. Rutledge, it’s all a quite humbling experience.
“I am very honored and humbled to have been nominated and win Braves Coach of the Week,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “My father introduced me to baseball at an early age and I immediately fell in love with the game. I grew up playing baseball in this community, so being able to coach and be involved in my community is very special to me. I was very fortunate to have great coaches and mentors while growing up who significantly impacted my life in a positive way, and inspired me to be a youth baseball coach today.”
The highly lauded team leader wants to teach the next generations the important life lessons that the sport taught him, especially his five and six-year-old sons.
“I am blessed to have two boys (ages 5 & 6) who love the game of baseball, and I want to teach them and other kids the game of baseball and the life lessons that are associated with it,” he said. “Senioa Athletics is a growing baseball organization with more than 100 kids in 6U alone, so being a part of a growing baseball community is awesome.”
When it comes to teaching the children, Sgt. Rutledge doesn’t want to focus on just winning games. It’s all bout the fun and love for the sport.
“When coaching young kids, I try to teach them the basic fundamentals of the game while ensuring they play the game the right way, and have fun doing it,” he said. “I am proud of the way the 6U Tribe and All Star Team displayed great attitudes, teamwork, and competed throughout the season. With the season beginning in February, it can be a long season for 6U kids, but they showed up each practice and game with enthusiasm and a desire to improve. After each 2 hour practice, these kids never wanted to leave the fields. They would stay at the fields for as long as the parents would let them and continue to play baseball. When I see this as a 6U coach, I know that I am being successful because the kids are truly falling in love with the game of baseball. It was the first time playing baseball for several kids on the 6U Tribe, and watching the kids develop and enjoy the game is why I love coaching.”
For any Coweta County kids or parents on the fence about joining the Senoia Athletic Association, Sgt. Rutledge said it’s time to make the leap.
“For the parents who are on the fence about signing their kids up for baseball....I say, sign them up,” he said. “Baseball is a challenging but enjoyable sport that teaches youth important life lessons.”
As the Braves Softball Coach of the Week, Sgt. Rutledge will receive a $100 Kroger gift card and a baseball autographed by an Atlanta Braves player.