Goran Supraha did a short interview with the new head coach of Nada SSM Split, Ivan Racic, for Mister-Baseball.
Ivan Racic: I started playing when I was 14, soon I completely fell in love with the game. I improved my level of play working with a former Tokyo Giant, Tetsuhiro Monna, during his time in Split. I needed a new challenge so I decided to leave for USA and compete at the college baseball level. I graduated in December with a degree in Health and Physical Education.
MRBB: Nada SSM Split is yours first club that you coaching, what are you expectations and plans for 2011 season
IC: Expectations are high since Nada SSM is a club of great tradition and is always aiming for the top. My plan is to take it one day at the time, come to the field every day with a lot of enthusiasm, install some core values on how to play the game the right way and constantly improve.
MRBB: You live and study in USA for last couple years, where and on what level you play
IC: I played at the Division II level for Arkansas Tech in one of the strongest conferences in D2, The GSC (Gulf South Conference).
MRBB: May you give comparison between USA and Europe baseball
IC: Playing for your hometown club or your national team alongside your amateur teammates who are leaving everything on the field just because of that sense of pride and love for the game was always more fun for me then baseball in USA which is getting to be more of a business even at the college level.
MRBB: How you see European baseball in future, there is already some players playing in MLB teams
IC: I think European baseball is going to keep on improving and I see much more European born players getting to the next level but it is responsibility of all of the coaches, especially the ones working with kids to install proper fundamentals and baseball values into them. Also I believe we all have to work hard to bring baseball back to the Olympic program.
MRBB: You are coaching a club from Split which one have long baseball history since 1919, but without a real baseball field that difficult and they still manage to be good, what is the secret of Split
IC: Split is known as a town of great athletes, with unbelievable numbers of Olympic medal winners considering the population size. I can not believe that a town of such a great sport history doesn’t have a proper baseball field. The conditions in which the team is practicing are on low levels, which makes every victory and championship that much sweeter but to further the development of baseball in Split and Croatia to the new level, proper field is a must.
MRBB: Nada SSM Split plays at qualifier European Cup in Athens this year, what you expect “down there”
IC: I expect the team to perform much better then at the last CEB cup in Antwerp. I feel like we are going to be able to compete with any opponent and just want to play good baseball plus gain some experience for this young team, everything else will be a bonus.
MRBB: What you think about other clubs in Croatian league who may be you top opponent this season
IC: Only thing I am focused on right now is my team, I believe if we continue to prepare well like we are doing right now and bring this momentum from the winter workouts into the season that our opponent won’t really matter.
MRBB: After terrible performance at European Championship in Germany last year, Croatian national team plays qualifier in Zagreb this summer, are they strong enough to comeback where they belong.
IC: Croatian baseball is in a need of a change, I think we need to start from the scratch. The team is definitely strong enough to come back to the A pool but never good enough to make an impact among the top national teams in Europe. We need some fresh blood and a specific plan on how to get to a point where we can play with the powerhouse teams in EC.