Softball life: Sabina Vítková, Czech Republic

Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

The Czech Republic, so called the heart of Europe, is full of profound history and beautiful landscapes surrounded by mountains and lovely towns. We are best known for our brewing industry, and if you ever visit the Czech Republic, you must try our traditional dishes such as Czech Guláš (Goulash) or Knedlo vepřo zelo.

In the Czech Republic softball isn’t a very popular sport. Whenever I tell someone I play softball, they usually ask me what type of sport it is, and if it’s something like baseball. When we get through the part of explaining the differences between baseball and softball, the next question I get is whether I’m the one fielding or batting. I find it funny, nevertheless, I never get tired of explaining what softball is about, even if I have to explain it a thousand times.

Only a few years after learning how to walk (about 5 years old) my friend’s mom told me to join the Katalpa Baseball Team Ostrava she was coaching. She was enthusiastic about me turning up at practice and try out. I fell in love with the equipment straight away, I loved it so much. I lived close to the field, which meant I was there every day after school, trying to catch up with my teammates and getting better by the day. The beginnings were hard, I was a skinny little kid and the coaches always told me I had to eat a lot, or otherwise I wouldn’t make it to the big competitions. I still meet these coaches sometimes, and they can’t believe how much I’ve changed.

 

After playing baseball for Katalpa Ostrava I was hosting for the softball team Klasik Frýdek-místek. Sometime later, I started playing for Arrows Ostrava where I played only softball. Before leaving to the States (September 2016) I played for Eagles Praha; then being one of the leading teams of the Czech Extraleague. The Extraleague in the Czech Republic is the top competition you can play, 8 teams competing for the National Champion. There are two other inferior leagues that are played (7 teams in the 2nd League and 6 playing the 3rd).

 

When the season starts we play two games (doubles) on Saturday and another two on Sunday, sometime having to travel a few hours outside of Prague. After the first part of the league is over, the teams are placed in Standings, according to the points obtained, depending on the Win or Loss and the runs scored. These Standings are then used for qualifying for the Play-Offs – Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and in the end the Final, all played for the best of 3 wins.

 

In general, practices are different during the Off-season and during the season. Off-season is usually full of circuit trainings, working out, running, and muscle building. It is often combined with some batting practice, usually focusing on technique and strength. During the season we concentrate more on quantity, getting a good BP done.

 

We always try doing something together as a team, making sure we have some quality time together off the field. We sometimes go and play Laser Game, go for dinner, or go to the mountains together for the weekend. It is a lot of fun.

 

My dream has always been to play softball in the USA, and I am extremely happy to have finally reached it. It is very different for the European softball I know, especially because of the concentration there is present at every single practice and the way the coaches speak to their players. I hope that one day something similar opens up in the Czech Republic, at least at the top level, and players start taking it as seriously as they do in the States.

 

I am really looking forward to participating in the Women European Championship this year. Our team has big ambitions and the Czech Republic always wants to be up there, reaching the medal positions. We are working hard, and I’m sure we will all do everything we can to show Europe what we have.

 

Sabina

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