Jakub Janda did an interview with the coaches of the Czech U12 National Team Petr Aubrecht and Ondřej Konvalinka.
Headcoach of the Czech national team U12
-4-time European champion (headcoach)
-Czech Coach of the year (2009)
-coach of the Czech national team U12
-4-time European champion (coach)
Jakub Janda: Gentlemen, how would you describe your team’s preparation for the ECH?
Ondřej Konvalinka: We have two more camps to go, most of our players are going to play Little League and the Czech baseball cup. Some coaches send us kids who have been learning baseball for just one year.
Petr Aubrecht: Everything goes according to the schedule, we will close out the roster at the next camp. We have support of Czech baseball federation and we feel that the hosting club, Hluboká baseball, gives all the efforts in order to provide us the best possible conditions. We are content with the work of Czech club coaches, we would not be able to succeed without their hard work.
Jakub Janda: How does your roster look like?
Ondřej Konvalinka: We tried out approx.60 players from all over the country, the final roster should have 16 players and 2 extra kids in case somebody gets injured.
Petr Aubrecht: Exactly.
Jakub Janda: Could you compare this year’s roster to the national U12 squad you coaches in the last year?
Petr Aubrecht: We are in the middle of program. What we can say is that we know we will be successful.
Ondřej Konvalinka: There are some differences, it is hard to predict before the ECH.
Jakub Janda: Your brief notes on the 2009 ECH? Have you changed anything in your approach?
Ondřej Konvalinka: The 2009 ECH in Bulgaria was really exhausting. Hot weather, tough semifinals (Bulgaria) and finals (Russian). If something works, there is no reason to change it.
Petr Aubrecht: The 2009 ECH in Bulgaria was one of the toughest ones. Fortunately, we had the best team I ever coached.
Jakub Janda: What motivates you to coach kids?
Ondřej Konvalinka: Happiness from the game and their effort.
Petr Aubrecht: Kids’ eyes.
Jakub Janda: How many years have you been coaching kids? Have you changed your approach during this time?
Ondřej Konvalinka: 7 years. We as coaches learn all our careers. I can tell that most of our players are not able to physically do, what the kids 4 years ago were able to. We had to take it easier.
Petr Aubrecht: 25 years. I have become calmer. I do not consider a success as the biggest goal anymore.
Jakub Janda: Is Czech youth baseball unique in something?
Ondřej Konvalinka: We have solid defense and good arms. We are poor hitters and we are not really aggressive when hitting. We do not like to take and bare responsibility. Czech quality teams send well-prepared players to us.
Petr Aubrecht: We have good mechanics and solid defense. Most of the players have a lack of confidence.
Jakub Janda: Why do you think it is good to invest in U12 national team? Is it worth it?
Petr Aubrecht: Even Holland and Italy have U12 teams but they do not send them to ECHs. Kids need motivation to improve. Those who join the national squad meet players with similar abilities and they try to shine. If they want to win the ECH, they have to work even harder. Themselves, their parents, and their coaches. There is a big evidence that we do it right – number of players in the Extraleague and national teams, who have gone through the U12 squad.
Jakub Janda: Your goal for the 2010 ECH?
Ondřej Konvalinka: Only goal is the Gold medal.
Petr Aubrecht: It is obvious. The first place. We cannot ask for less.
Jakub Janda: Thank you for your time.
Mister-Baseball thanks Jakub Janda, Petr Aubrecht and Ondřej Konvalinka for the Q&A.