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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2009 > May - August > Round Tripper: Coach, Players from Czech Republic Make Trip to Williamsport, Enjoy Opportunity to Experience Little League Camp

Round Tripper: Coach, Players from Czech Republic Make Trip to Williamsport, Enjoy Opportunity to Experience Little League Camp

Round Tripper: Coach, Players from Czech Republic Make Trip to Williamsport, Enjoy Opportunity to Experience Little League Camp

Soccer and ice hockey are the typical youth sports in the Czech Republic city of Brno, but it may soon be buzzing with baseball fever if Little League coach David Winkler has his way.

Mr. Winkler, 29, an assistant coach with the Czech Republic’s National Team and a Little League Coach in the Draci Brno Little League, asked for, and received, permission to travel from the Eastern European country to the United States for a 10-day stay. The purpose of the visit – attend Little League camp.

“I have been to the United States four times, but this is my first time coming to Williamsport,” Mr. Winkler, a coach with the Czech Republic’s Little League Baseball tournament team, said. “I have been to America three other times, attending Major League Baseball Spring Training camps in Florida.

“Last season, I went with our Little League National Team to Kutno, Poland, for the Europe Region Tournament and had a good time,” Mr. Winkler said. “It was decided after returning home from Kutno, that we would try to come to camp this year.”

Arriving at Little League International on July 17, Mr. Winkler and five Little Leaguers from Brno, participated in a week-long Little League Camp session. The group returned home on July 26.

The players were: Jakub Ondracek, Vojtech Pospisil, Filip Mostek, Lukas Bastl and Adam Hajtmar. Master Hajtmar was honored at the conclusion of camp with the Outstanding Pitching Award.

During their time at camp, the players worked out with other Junior Division baseball camp participants, made some acquaintances, and learned some valuable lessons about the game.

The Czech Republic has 10 chartered Little League programs with 150 Little League Division players.

“When were in Kutno last year, the skill of the teams was very high,” Mr. Winkler said. “It was important for us coming here to camp to see the mentality of baseball in the United States. As a coach I was trying to find something new to teach to players in the Czech Republic. The ways of coaching in the U.S. are different, and I have learned a lot of things while I’ve been here.”

The coach was equally pleased with the growth of the players in such a short period of time. The players, who received permission and funding from their parents to make the trip, were members of Mr. Winkler’s Little League team in the Czech Republic.

“I picked the players to come, and their parents allowed it,” Mr. Winkler said. “We had to make the decision about who could come along time ago, because it took us almost four months to get all of the paperwork in order.”

When the players arrived in Williamsport, their focus was on learning as much baseball as possible, but there were a few spare moments to do some shopping at the nearby mall and enjoy and few fast food hamburgers.

With the week of camp winding down and the impending trip home ahead, Mr. Winkler said of the experience, “Our biggest expectations were met. The Little League fields are very nice, and I’m certain there is no complex like this in all of Europe.”

The interest in Czech children playing baseball is limited as field space and free time are at a premium. Still, Mr. Winkler feels baseball is on the right track in the Eastern European country.

Having the chance to bring players to camp, and exposing them to the Little League experience, has piqued the interest of others throughout Mr. Winkler’s homeland.

“When we return home, me and the players will be able to tell everyone of the wonderful time we had,” Mr. Winkler said. “I expect our time here to help other parents want to send their children to Little League camp. For me, I have a young son and daughter, who one day I would to send to camp.

“Right now,” Mr. Winkler jokingly said, “My son, Jakob is three-and-a-half, and we can’t play baseball around our home anymore, because we already have broken too many windows. I suspect he’ll be playing Little League soon enough.” 

This summer, the players from the Czech Republic, were among nearly 1,000 children registered to attend Little League Camp at Little League International. Week-long camp sessions also were held throughout the summer at Little League’s A. Bartlett Giamatti Training Center in Bristol, Conn., home of the Little League Eastern Region Headquarters; and at Green Acres Little League Camp in Hillsgrove, Pa.

More information on Little League Camp can be found here: Coach's Box Newsletter - March 09 Feature Story

And here: http://www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/About_Our_Organization/Baseball_Camps.htm