Naymans, Robinsons approach father-son coaching dynamic from different angles
by Emily Horos
February 22, 2013 01:20 AM | 4466 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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For seven months of the year, John Nayman, right, makes his home in Rochester, N.Y. But for much of the winter and into the spring, he’s in Canton helping his son, Creekview baseball coach Mike Nayman, in the dugout. It’s a role the elder Nayman — ‘Peepaw’ to the Grizzlies’ players — gladly embraces. <Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Many fathers coach their sons in baseball, from the Little League level up through high school.

Many of those sons grow up wanting to be just like their fathers.

So what happens when the son grows up? He coaches with his father, of course.

At least, that’s how it’s worked at Creekview and Etowah.

The Naymans

Creekview coach Mike Nayman grew up in upstate New York playing on summer baseball teams coached by his father, John, for more than 15 years.

When the younger Nayman launched Creekview’s baseball program eight years ago, he had a crazy idea.

“It was a whimsical idea,” he said. “With the community coach aspect that Georgia has, you can have someone come in and help you from the community. I always wanted to ask my dad to be part of the program, but I never thought it would work. I really thought he would turn me down the first year I asked.”

John Nayman, who retired more than 20 years ago, lives in New York and visits Cherokee County from January to May to help with the team. The arrangement is year-to-year with John being able to opt out before each season.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun coming down here and meeting the youngsters coming through and seeing some great ballplayers,” the elder Nayman said.

In addition to coaching, John is in charge of maintaining the field.

Mike Nayman said the team helps keep his father young.

“I’ve got my best friend that works side-by-side with me in something that I love,” he said. “I learned everything that I know from him. It’s been cool having him experience everything with me.”

As an assistant at Creekview, the elder Nayman takes direction from his son — a 180-degree flip in how the relationship began.

Mike Nayman admits that they sometimes have differences of opinion, but as John puts it, he is the one following directions.

“It’s ‘Dad, do this’ and ‘Dad, do that,’” John Nayman said. “We have gotten along well since I can remember. There are things we do at the field that we are just thinking on the same wave-length. I’m his sounding board of course, but he has to talk to someone, so he talks to his dad.”

Mike Nayman said his father brings a lot to the team. The players, who refer to John Nayman as “Peepaw,” are fond of him as well.

“His knowledge base is so amazing,” Mike Nayman said. “He loves the kids and the kids love him. It’s been a really unique relationship and I wouldn’t trade the world for it.”

The Robinsons

At Etowah, the roles are a bit different.

Eagles coach Greg Robinson coached his son, Jordan, at Milton. The younger Robinson continued his playing career at Young Harris College before graduating from Georgia before becoming a teacher in Cherokee County. He took the role of junior varsity coach in 2012 and led the team to an 18-0 finish.

Growing up, Jordan Robinson knew he wanted to stay around baseball, but he didn’t necessarily plan to coach.

“It just came naturally to me, so I decided to be a coach one day,” he said.

Greg Robinson said it is rewarding to see his son follow in his footsteps.

“He is great with kids,” Greg Robinson said. “He is a real fundamentalist of the game — a purist. He has a lot of passion, and these guys really respond to him.”

While the two men don’t coach along side each other, they work together to develop players and further the program at Etowah.

“He is really helping us develop great players at the (varsity) level,” Greg Robinson said. “I’m really counting on a lot of his guys that he had last year to contribute to us this year. I’m real glad to have him in the program.”

Both men know that the day may come when they are coaching against one another.

“I’m very happy working here with my dad at a great school,” Jordan Robinson said. “But everyone coaches to be a head coach one day, and I would like to take that on when the time comes.”

Greg Robinson said disagreements between he and his son are infrequent.

“We grew up with the same strategies,” he said. “He has his own program and I don’t try to micromanage his program. He knows what we are trying to do here and he lets me know when someone is ready to play (varsity).”

Jordan Robinson jokes that occasionally he will rebel a bit, but says that he tries to mimic the way his father coached him.

“I feel like I have established good relationships with my players, like he did,” he said. “I try to make practice as fun as possible and make them compete against each other, and that breeds winning on the field. I feel that I learned all my strategy, as far as practice, organization and communication, with my players and other coaches from watching my dad and playing for him during high school.”

* * *

A talented player in his own right, John Nayman said not much in coaching has changed since he worked with his son, and he doesn’t imagine that much will change in the future between coaches and their sons.

“We still work with the kids on the basic things,” he said. “Some people may think that it’s changed, but the kids are still great and that’s what’s important.”

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February 24, 2013
Micromanage, hmmmmm.....
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