“Hyung, can you do me a favor?”
When she heard this, she immediately agreed without asking or questioning. That’s how the women’s national team has one more professional baseball coach who is welcome. Former Lotte Giants and SK Wyverns catcher Heo Il-sang (44) is the main character.
Coach Heo joined the national team as a battery coach through the introduction of coach Jung Geun-woo, the field coach of the national team. The two are usually close and keep in touch often even after retirement.
Coach Huh said, “I was at Lotte before moving to SK (2008) and since then I have been close with (Jeong) Geun-woo. Since I was the first person to come, Geun-woo helped me a lot, and (Park) Jae-sang and the other kids took care of me a lot. I became very close with Geun-woo and kept in touch, but one day he called me. He said, “Hyung, can you do me a favor?”
Coach Huh said that as soon as he heard that, he immediately agreed to the request without even asking. Coach Heo said, “(Jeong) Geun-woo said, ‘I need one more person to look after the catcher applicant for the women’s baseball national team’, so I went. At first, we decided to only do it for two weeks. But he said, ‘Let’s go together’, so he became the national team coach,” he laughed.
The first women’s baseball team players I’ve ever seen. Coach Heo said, “I have coached at all levels, from elementary, middle, high school, college, pro, and commercial coaches. It is a battlefield. There is pressure to go pro, competition called rivals. But when I came to the women’s baseball team, I felt a new world.”
Coach Huh said, “I felt that (the women’s baseball team) was one team. Also, the enthusiasm of the players was really great. Aren’t the players professionally trained in the position of catcher? Maybe that’s why the players really like being coached and keep asking me to teach them more, so my teacher’s tension went up. I really look forward to each week. He did not hide his satisfaction, saying, “My skills come up quickly.
Coach Heo described this as ‘healing’. “After being in the battlefield on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, coming to teach the women’s baseball team on the weekends is like ‘healing’.” Coach Huh said that he enjoys making time to coach the national team on the weekends even though he is busy running the academy.
Since his retirement, Coach Huh has developed his leadership skills by coaching Sangmu, SK Wyverns, and Shinil High School’s battery. Coach Huh said, “When he was a battery coach in the Sangmu baseball team (2012-2014), he was with players who are now the main catchers in the first team. Park Dong-won (LG), Lee Jae-won (SSG), and the following year Kim Min-sik (SSG), Yoo Kang-nam (Lotte) Park Se-hyeok (NC). I studied a lot at that time. Teaching catchers is the most fun,” he said, revealing his passion and pride in coaching.
The only catchers selected for the 2023 women’s baseball national team are Lee Bit-na and Choi Min-hee. Coach Huh said of the two players, “(Lee)’s shining shoulders and posture have improved a lot. The shoulders are strong. Catching was good. Blocking has also increased a lot,” he praised.
“(Choi) Min-hee has a lot of experience, so she has an excellent ability to read the game. As the national team captain, she has a really good ability to lead her team,” she said.
Even on weekdays when the national team is not training, the two players are constantly contacting Coach Heo and showing their passion for learning. Coach Heo said, “The two players send videos of themselves training and ask for help. Then I help by saying ‘I think I need to practice like this’. The players approached me first, unlike the male players. I liked talking with the players, saying, ‘This part has improved or not.’” he smiled.
Coach Heo gained confidence in international competitions by watching and guiding the players. Coach Huh said, “It feels good. If the condition of the players improves a little more, I think they will of course be within 4th place.” “For the first time, I watched YouTube and analyzed women’s baseball players. I saw other countries. It is said that Japanese women’s baseball is good, but if Korean women’s baseball received a little more support, it seemed that most teams would win. I gained that confidence,” he emphasized.
The Korean women’s national baseball team, led by head coach Yang Sang-moon, will play its first game of the Asian Cup (BFA) in Hong Kong on May 26. A total of 12 countries will participate, and if you are in the top 4, you can win a ticket to the world competition. 안전놀이터