The numbers are pretty astonishing, but that’s not at all why Juan Namnun does it.
Namnun has been the head coach of the Frankford High School baseball team since 2008 when he took over for all-time great Bob Peffle. Namnun served as Peffle’s assistant since 1999.
During his time at Frankford as Peffle’s helper, Namnun led the Pioneers to 111 wins. Not bad for under a decade.
And since taking over for his mentor, Namnun has guided Frankford to 200 wins, the milestone No. 200 came Thursday when the Pioneers knocked off String Theory 6-4 in a Public League showdown.
Nauman loves to win, and he tries to get that message through to his players, but in reality, he’s not doing it so his guys win baseball games.
A 1995 graduate of Frankford, Namnun simply wants what’s best for his players while they’re at Frankford and long after they graduate. So he isn’t an easy coach to play for, but he’s an easy coach to love.
“I think coaching has made me a better father and being a father has made me a better coach,” Namnun said. “These kids, this year, I know people use the word love a lot, and I love every kid I’ve had, but this year has been the most wonderful, high-character kids I’ve ever coached. It’s so easy to give effort for these kids. I would do anything for these kids because they’ve done it for me.”
This hasn’t been an easy year for Namnun and his family.
In the fall, Namnun was diagnosed with breast cancer. He underwent a double mastectomy, and two months later, the cancer was in remission.
The cancer is gone, but the scars remain, and from the surgery, Namnun still isn’t 100 percent.
The entire ordeal was a nightmare. Just hearing the word “cancer” is lifechanging but breast cancer in a healthy, 44-year-old male is a lot to digest.
But through it all, Namnun had the same spirit and the same great attitude. And he needed it not just for his players and students at Frankford, but for his family.
Namnun is married to his high school sweetheart Lena. Together, they have three boys, all great football players.
His oldest son, Jarred, was a lineman at East Stroudsburg, where he is graduating from this spring. Next year, he’s bound for University of Pennsylvania where he’ll go for a master’s degree in political science.
Middle son, Derek, 18, was the quarterback at Delran High School, where he also plays baseball. He’s in the process of picking a college, but he’ll continue to play football.
Jake, 15, is one of the best offensive linemen in his class. The sophomore already has an offer from Boston College, and many more are reaching out.
As the dad of three very active young men, it was tough for Namnun to sit on the sidelines. He’s not a coach who doesn’t get involved. A star baseball and football star, and still young, Namnun was used to being hands on when coaching, not just his team, but his boys.
The past year has been rough, and it’s still a challenge.
Namnun is still healing. The battle with cancer is over, but he had major surgery, so he’s working his way back to full strength.
“Unfortunately I’m having some physical complications so I’m doing heavy-duty therapy and scar tissue issues,” Namnun said. “I’m getting as much as I can every day because it’s keeping me going. Things aren’t going great in all ways. The scarring was a lot heavier and some muscular. I’m cleared, but there’s a lot of pain throwing and swinging.
“It was hard for my family. I mean I live through them, everything I do is for them, so when I knew I wasn’t doing great, emotionally and mentally, I was there trying to help them. We broke down techniques, they helped me. It meant so much to me, even if I wasn’t physically able to work with them, I could help them.”
Namnun also couldn’t have done it without his tag-team partner, Lena, his wife whom he met freshman year.
“Lena is my everything. She makes me better every day. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near the father, man or coach without her.
“She pushes me. She talks me through strategy. She’s incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to sports, especially football and baseball. She’s been right beside me the entire way, pushing me to be better.”
It’s hard to believe Namnun could be a better coach.
He’s won seven Public League championships as the head coach. He’s bested teams from the Catholic League in district championships and has won games against top suburban teams in the state playoffs.
Analytics tells you Namnan is a good baseball coach.
But analytics don’t scratch the surface of what kind of coach he is.
“You know it’s funny I still find myself giddy driving in when we have big games,” Namnun said. “I still find myself chuckling and being excited, I still love it. I love going there. I’m still in my health battle, but that’s my escape. You don’t think about what’s happening anywhere but on the baseball field. I look forward to it every day.
“It’s impossible to get down, even when we have challenging games, these kids are so positive and caring and funny about each other and the whole program. It’s so rewarding to be around those kids. I’ve been blessed with great kids the entire time, but these kids are special.
“Senior day will be hard, especially for this group. They’re family. When you go through ups and downs. COVID freshman year to finishing this year virtually, and yet here they are every day with a smile, with great energy, acting silly, the jokes. It’s a remarkable group of young men.”
Namnun would be a good teacher anywhere.
He’s not shy with helping out anyone. If he sees a flaw in a player’s game, even if it’s an opponent, Namnun will help.
But for him, there’s something special about doing it at Frankford.
“It means so much, Frankford is home for us,” Namnun said. “We’ve been there forever together. I still feel pride putting on red, gold and blue every day, it’s an honor I get to do it and it’s been a great ride. I feel like I have more to give. I’m still learning, evolving and moving forward.
“Things have changed, the game has evolved, the kids have evolved, some philosophies have changed and I’ve changed with it,” Namnun said “It’s an evolution. I still feel like I’m a young guy. I feel good and I’m feeling better. I love doing this. I’ve been blessed.”