Goran Supraha interviewed Branko Nenadic, head coach of the Croatian club Olimpija Karlovac for Mister-Baseball.com.
Branko Nenadic: 1993 was my first baseball season, I was 19 years old. I was a catcher for about 10-11 seasons, then moved to outfield. The major influence on my baseball career was made by Rick Johnston, who was my coach in 1997 and 1999. He taught me a lot and encouraged me to start coaching. Later I spent some time with him at the National team and in his baseball school “The Baseball Zone” in Mississauga, Canada. Also big influence on my career was playing with guys like Jimmy Summers, Tetsuhiro Monna, Ernesto Pereira, Carlos Tovar, Jason Pospishil, Jeff Calderone and many more. Playing with and against these guys made me a better player and better coach.
GS: Olimpija is Croatian cup winner and finalist of Croatian championship last season, but at start in autumn you get two defeats, especially surprisingly was against Donat Zadar, what happened…
BN: Well the game of baseball has a lot of rules that are written, but some of baseball rules are not written. The most important is respect of The Game. Nobody is larger than baseball. The game we played in Zadar was perfect example, we didn’t play hard, we didn’t have the right approach and we got punished. We learned a lesson. Good thing is we have still a lot of games to play and show our true face.
GS: What you expecting from your players at spring and what are your expectations for season 2011…
BN: We are going to introduce 5-6 young players from our baseball school to the senior team. We are in process of building the team and I expect that process to be over in couple maybe 3 years. If all goes according to plan, we could have a pretty good team for the future, made all of home grown players.
GS: Olimpija Karlovac is a “power house” in Croatian baseball which one has won 11 championship titles, 11 Croatian cups, 3 Inter league titles and the CEB cup in 2006., do you feel “weight” of “must win a title”…
BN: Of course the pressure is always there. I was part of a team from beginning, a team that brings home the first title. More titles you win, more pressure you face and higher expectations. But reality is that you can’t improve if you win all the time. Last few seasons, both Split and Varazdin had strong teams and level of baseball played in play off was pretty good and I hope it stays that way for quite some time.
GS: You also have long history in national team, last year in Germany at European championship you been assistant coach, what you except from national team this summer in Zagreb at Qualifier for European Championship I Holland 2012, after poor performance last year….
BN: My debut for the National team was in 1996. In England, since than I played in 6 European championships A pool and every B pool championship (100+ games).Last year in Germany was my last appearance for the Croatian National Team. From experience I will say this, if in your whole season you don’t see a 90 mph fastball or a slider that is 80+ mph, how can anybody expect to hit and perform against the top 5-6 A pool teams that have pitching like that. Reality is that we are in between A pool and B pool. A lot of things have to change, improvement in Croatian baseball and Croatian league before we can play competitive with the best in Europe.