VOTING CLOSED: Vote for the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week: Week 5

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Great coaches can instill a lifelong love of the game

Coaches teach young athletes about hard work, passion and good sportsmanship — skills that are just as important off the field — and can instill a lifelong love of the game.

This summer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Braves are teaming up to honor the youth baseball and softball coaches who are making a difference on the field and in their communities.

“We would like to recognize the outstanding coaches in Georgia providing our young athletes with exceptional playing experience. The most important thing to know is the fundamentals, but there is so much more than that,” the Braves said in a statement.

This week’s nominees have all demonstrated outstanding dedication to providing youth athletes with exceptional playing experiences. Check out their profiles and vote for your favorite. Not only will the winning coaches be profiled in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but each will also receive a $100 gift card from Kroger and a baseball autographed by a Braves player.

Vote for your favorite coach

Voting is closed. The winner will be announced Monday afternoon on the Braves Coach of the Week page.

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Clay Crawford is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Credit: Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Clay Crawford is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week.
Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Credit: Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Combined ShapeCaption
Clay Crawford is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Credit: Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Credit: Photo courtesy of Clay Crawford

Clay Crawford

Clay Crawford is always looking to invest not only in better ball players, but also in better men, Jennifer Crawford wrote in her nomination.

“He’s supportive and positive, and it’s rare that a player doesn’t request for the next season,” she wrote. “He loves the boys as his own and makes sure they’re learning the game of baseball and also the importance of good sportsmanship and accountability.

“As a full-time working father of two, Clay shows up seven days a week to coach his 8U All Stars team. He’s never too tired for ‘a few more pitches.’” she added. “He lifts our boys up each time he’s on the field with them, demonstrating good sportsmanship each time. Our boys are learning to be not only better ballplayers, but better men with coach Clay Crawford in charge.”

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Garen Smith is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Credit: Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Garen Smith is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week.
Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Credit: Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

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Garen Smith is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Credit: Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Credit: Photo courtesy of Garen Smith

Garen Smith

Bethany Smith nominated Garen Smith because he “stepped up and coached a youth baseball team in the community.”

“He worked hard to show the kids the game of baseball, but also the respect and attitude that comes with it,” she wrote. “He was a mentor to the children and helped them grow. We love our coach and want to recognize him and his heart for baseball and children.”

Peggy Smith wrote that Garen Smith is an exemplary and passionate coach, “Coaching 6-year-olds takes patience, which he has proven, especially when practicing and instructing.” If a player strikes out, she added, “he comes to the plate, whispers a pep talk, and they walk back smiling. Teammates all high five!”

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Russell Yeatman is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Credit: Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Russell Yeatman is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week.
Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Credit: Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Combined ShapeCaption
Russell Yeatman is nominated to be the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week. Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Credit: Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Credit: Photo courtesy of Russell Yeatman

Russell Yeatman

Russell Yeatman is not only a coach, he’s also a great mentor and role model, according to Katlyn (no last name given), who nominated him.

Yeatman “has displayed so many great contributions to our baseball team. He makes sure each boy knows their true potential, and he loves seeing them grow into the game,” she wrote. “He’s been a coach to some of these boys since they were 5! Outside of the field, no matter where he is, if one of his players or parents see him they will smile and run up even if it’s just to say, ‘Hey coach!’ These kids mean everything to him, and this year he finally coached those boys to a championship season. I couldn’t think of someone more deserving than Russell to receive this great award.”

Previous Braves Baseball Coaches of the Week

Week 1: Doug Spence

Week 2: Dustin Rutledge

Week 3: Vincent Altimari

Week 4: Daniel Griffin