VOTING CLOSED: Vote for the Braves Baseball Coach of the Week: Week 7

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.

ExploreVote for the Braves Softball Coach of the Week: Week 7

“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 open through Sunday. The winner will be announced the following week on the Braves Coach of the Week page.

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

Aaron Bateman

Aaron Bateman doesn’t focus on winning, Nichelle Bateman said in her nomination, “but on teaching his team how to play with proper sportsmanship and that winning is not everything.” Not only that, she added, but he tends to cover the cost of uniforms, bags and helmets, working with parents on payment if it’s needed.

Bateman has been coaching Natalie Smith’s sons for the past six seasons. “He goes above and beyond,” she said. “He picks my child up when we are having transportation issues and feeds him.” In addition, she wrote, he “pushes all the kids to be their best. The kids see the positive impact and role model he is, and we need more individuals like this. He would take the shirt off his back to help a family in need.”

Nick Simmons praised Bateman’s coaching ability. “Bateman is my son’s county All Stars coach. He noticed my son’s swing was too long during practice. The next day he invited my son to work with him at home to shorten his swing. Next tournament my son hit three balls to the fence.”

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

Marion Summers

According to Christopher Brantley, Marion Summers “gives his all to ensure not just great game performances but to instill great work ethics and leadership skills.”

That sentiment was echoed by the half-dozen people who nominated Summers.

“Coach Summers is the most passionate, caring and loving coach. He took a chance on our rec team and turned them into travel ball champions,” Rameka Summers wrote. “He has learned each player inside and out and has a special bond with each of them. He not only teaches them to be better baseball players, he teaches them to be better sons. On top of being a coach for baseball and football, he took on the responsibility as vice president of our park. He is so dedicated to the growth of our youth and we are grateful to have him!”

Raquisha Daniels said Summers “truly puts his all into coaching all of his players. He takes his role seriously and instills pride and determination into those kids. He loves what he does.”

Carey Hawkins wrote in his nomination that Summers “puts his all into working with his players. He not only prides himself on making them better players but he makes them better people. He teachers good sportsmanship, confidence in their abilities and shares his love for the game with them.”

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

Lee Wilson

“My husband is a caring a dedicated rec baseball coach,” Maritza Gonzalez wrote in her nomination.

When the league needed a 10U coach, she said, Wilson stepped up and took on another team even though he was already coaching a 6U team.

“For three years he has volunteered to do field maintenance at the park, which means that he has to drag and line every field the night before games,” she continued. “So, after working a full-time job as a mechanic and coaching two teams back to back, he stays after everyone leaves to make sure we have nice fields to play on.

“He has been coaching for seven years,” Gonzalez added, “and he is always the most requested coach of the park. He loves being out on the field with the kids and watching them learn and grow as players. He always has a positive attitude. His motto is: ‘This is just a game, we’re here to have fun. So, go have fun!’

“It takes a lot to be a rec baseball coach,” she concluded. “It’s a volunteer position, and you don’t always pick your team. And my husband, Lee Wilson, does it season after season without complaining. I know he’s the best youth coach because I see it every season.”

Previous Braves Baseball Coaches of the Week

Week 1: Doug Spence

Week 2: Dustin Rutledge

Week 3: Vincent Altimari

Week 4: Daniel Griffin

Week 5: Russell Yeatman

Week 6: Chase Timms