A banner of roughly 50 former Creekview baseball players hangs in the Grizzlies’ field house as a tribute to the athletes that went on to play in college since the team played its first game in 2006.
However, the coach who played a key role in building up Creekview’s baseball program and developing its players over the past 15 seasons will not be around to see more faces added to that banner.
After 30 years of teaching and 22 years coaching high school baseball in Cherokee County — including a year at Cherokee and five years at Woodstock — Creekview coach Mike Nayman stepped down at the conclusion of the 2021 baseball season.
While Nayman said he may join on as an assistant coach somewhere, he is currently focusing his efforts on running his pressure washing business and coaching his under-18 travel baseball team.
“There’s certainly coaching in my blood,” Nayman said. “I can always fulfill my need for coaching somehow, some way.”
Nayman said that his retirement from teaching played a significant role in his decision to relinquish his position as varsity baseball coach.
“You can’t be a head coach in today’s day and time and not be in a school every day, so I knew that my head coaching was kind of over, and we’ll see what the future holds,” Nayman said. “I just felt it was my time to start letting some other folks take over.”
Nayman coached Creekview to a region title and seven state playoff trips, four of which saw the Grizzlies move on to the second round.
He also coached Creekview’s softball team from 2007-10 and again from 2017-18. The Lady Grizzlies played for three state championships under Nayman, and he was the Class AAAAAA Coach of the Year in 2017 after the No. 2 nationally ranked Lady Grizzlies went 34-3 and won the state title.
Despite his successes developing players on the field, Nayman said that developing the character of his athletes was his priority.
“I hope that they go out and are good spouses, good parents, good workers and good in the community. That’s important. It just is,” Nayman said. “Regardless how many games we won, or what we want, there’s got to be a bigger picture there, and I hope that we taught them a little bit about life and life lessons along the way.”
Nayman has also been able to enjoy his own children’s athletic success. His daughter, Parker, was a multi-sport standout at River Ridge, while his son, Paxton, is a Creekview graduate and rising sophomore offensive lineman at Army.
David Smart will take on the role of coaching Creekview’s baseball players, having been announced as Nayman’s replacement on May 25 following three years as the coach at Denmark High School in Forsyth County.
Smart has made 10 state finals in his 26 years of coaching, including three in which his teams won the championship.
“You tend to learn a lot by being around the game a lot, and I think that’s really where he’s at,” Nayman said. “I’m sure he’s going to come in and implement some of the things that he’s comfortable with and that he’s learned, and hopefully he takes the program and builds upon it and takes it to greater levels than we’ve seen.
“If that’s the case, then that’s good for Creekview, it’s good for the players and it’s good for the community.”