Apply for the 2012 EBCA Coach Exchange Program

In 2011, 4 coaches, from 4 different nations and different levels were awarded a spot for the 2011 EBCA Coach Exchange Program.

Germany's Benjamin Kleiner went to Indiana with coach Steve Farley's Butler Bulldogs.

France's Bertrand Rue, spent 2 amazing weeks with Caliendo Sports International in Chicago and was exposed to all levels of baseball, from youth to professional levels.

England's Pietro Sollecito was headed to Florida to attend coach Vodenlich's Wisonsin Whitewater Warhawks' Spring Training in Florida.

And of course, Belgian academy coach Filip Vandermeiren, who just got back from Arizona and has been spoiled with the Milwaukee Brewers.

All of them had a great experience and all host organizations have really enjoyed the chance to spread their knowledge and share their love of our game.

It is now time for you, to apply and possibly become one of the 2012 EBCA Exchange Program ambassadors in the US.

Become a member of the EBCA, apply and YOU may one of the lucky coaches to be featured on this blog in a few months and the experience related here as early as January may be YOURS.

Exchange season 2011 officially over. Heads turn towards 2012

Filip flew home  this Friday October 7th at 6.00AM.

The Instructional league is over and the complex is far less buzy then the previous 14 days.

I make a point to attending the last possible advanced team game at Peoria (though Intructional League is over, the advanced players are there for one more week).
The Brewers/Mariners team can't work the magic this time and their streak ends.
In the bottom of the 7th, with 1st and 2nd base loaded, a Mariners hitter fails to understand the bunt sign and eventually pops out. The rest is easy. We don't score and next innings, the baseball gods punish us for not taking care a execution and Goodyear (Indians/Reds) score 4 runs to blow the game open and take the win home.

I get the chance to speak with the players on the bus ride. Which country has the best-looking girls in Europe?, what is the best place to spend a week?, is Amsterdam as wild people say it is?.... All questions that I'm trying to answer. Not always easy but fun. I find out that Hunter Morris actually visited Europe a few years ago at the Haarlem Honkbal Week and in Czech Republic on a team that featured players like Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg and some other current MLB players.


Thursday - Last Instructional League day

The mood is a bit dull this morning.

When we arrive, the guys are like : " You guys went to the Stadium again, yesterday?".
"Yes", tough game". we reply
"I knew it" one of them said, "they jinxed us"
Baseball is full of superstition. Sportsmen are pretty superstitious in general but the baseball guys are at a different level.
Knowing that fact, we send the attention to another target.
"Well, we were not the ones who were howling like a Wolf, saying that Randy was going to get the job done and playing some Duran Duran's Hungry like the Wolf in the clubhouse"
"Com'on man, I was just trying to get some positive vibes for him, because nobody had faith".
All this is said with big smiles, as always with this very nice staff.

You could feel some kind of tension though.
We witnessed a lot of instruction out here during our stay. And clearly, the staff doesn't take it like a job, but more like a passion. You can feel a very good atmosphere between players and staff. The staff actually cares about the players. And for a small market team like the Brewers, that's a key.
But the ownership has spent some extra bucks this season and they want results. In baseball, everytime an organization feels like they don't get their money's worth, changes are likely to happen.


Team Europe is in the place

On Wednesday, we get to Maryvale complex between 7 and 7.30 like every day.

We get our breakfast.
Coaches and players eat breakfast between 7.30 and 8.30. They can choose between different types of cereals, bagels, bread, waffles, fruits, yogurt, jams... Pretty wide selection even for the pickiest persons.

7.30 - coach meeting.
Right after the meeting, we order our tickets online and use our coupon from yesterday to get seats in the 36th row, behind the 1st base dugout. this time, we order E-tickets, which should save a lot of drama.

Off to the field. the coaches decided to make it competitive today. After the warm up and play-catch, a target, maybe a bit bigger than a strike zone, is set about 30 meters away from the players. Bob Misciz is tossing balls to the players and they need to make the throw in the same action. It's catchers vs infielders, vs outfielders. It's a surprisingly tight game but the infielders are eventually winning it, overcoming an early deficit.

Then, it's time for DP Busters. The sliding mat is set up on the field and a dummy is held vertically by the coaches. Players need to learn how to break up the double play. It seems pretty awkward for some of them but they get better at it by the end of the practice.

DP Busters


Tuesday October 4th - NLDS game 3

Well, rough start for tueasday as we tried to figure out if and how we will get our tickets to see the possibly deciding game 3 of the NLDS between the club hosting us and the club from the city where we are based.

We called the agency and they don't really know what happened. No real valid information about how we will get our precious passes.

Filip is on the field with the infielders, hitting some fungoes with Ned Yost Jr (Son of the Royals manager) Matt Erickson (manager of class A Wisconsion Timber Rattlers) and infield coordinator Bob Miczick.

Twenty minutes later, theboutfielders get out of the cages and on the field for the IPS (Individual Position Skills) while infielder sand catcher shead to the cages to take care of their hitting routines.

We have a full staff again as all the coaches who were in Milwaukee during the play-off week-end are back.

At 9.00 AM, we take the bus to Glendale to face the Dodgers.
Glendale, like more and more MLB facilities in Arizona, is hoting 2 MLB clubs. The Dodgers and the White Sox.  
Rockies and Diamondbacks share the newest Stadium in Scottsdale's Salt River Fields, Royals and Rangers in Surprise, Padres and Mariners in Peoria, Indians and Reds in Goodyear.
It's a relatively new complex and the stadium, Camelback ranch, is shared by both teams. A way for the host city to make sure they have a home game every day during Spring Training.
For the rest, each team has its individual facilities (gym, offices, practice fields...) and you can spend a lot of time on the site without seeing a players from the other organization.

Pitching coach Elvin Nina walking towards the field on the gorgeous Dodgers' side of Glendale complex

Take part to the EBCA Coach of the Year Award selection process.


The European Baseball Coaches Association is proud to announce the selection process for the 2011 EBCA Coach of the Year Award.

Now, you can be part of it. Here is how.

Nomination Process:

- Nominations including a description of the coaches' achievements during the past 12 months need to be sent to the EBCA by October 20th at the latest. (Anyone can submit a nomination)

Pre-selection Process:

- Each EBCA board member will evaluate each candidate and will grade each one of them from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest, 5 the highest score)
- The membership record of each candidate will be taken into account in the pre-election process

- These rankings will be collected by the EBCA Award Committee, which then will nominate the 5 highest scoring candidates to the EBCA membership to vote on

Final Election Process:

- Active EBCA members (after November 2010) will receive the right to vote on one of the remaining five candidates. The votes of our EBCA membership will count for 50% of the overall votes.

- Following the same voting process, the votes of the EBCA board members will count for the remaining 50%


- The recipient of the Coach of the Year Award will be announced at the upcoming EBCA Convention in November.


Brewers exchange - Monday October 3rd

The Brewers have won the first 2 games of the NLDS and the excitement is big over here.

Everybody here is looking forward to game 3 that will be played Tuesday in Phoenix. A win by Milwaukee at Chase Field would open the doors of the NLCS to the Brew Crew.

We are still short staffed here as the guys who were invited to Milwaukee by the front office will only be back for Tuesday.

The day stats a bit later then usual. The staff meets 30 minutes later than usual and on-field activities only start at 10.
We get to hit some fungoes for the inflielders with IF coach Bob Miczick.

Catchers, outfielders and pitchers are spread out on the different fields and get their work in as every day.

First basemen Nick Ramirez (4th round draft pick 2011) and Hunter Morris (4th round draft pick 2010 who took part to the Arizona Fall League last year)

A group of pitchers then joins the infielders to work on PFPs.
All IF positions are filled and 3 situations are been worked one after each other.


End of 1st week

Short days with the Brewers at the end of the week.

A good half of the staff was invited by the front office to fly to Milwaukee to attend the games of the NLDS in Milwaukee.

So, we get the chance to do more things on the field.

Friday morning, we start the day hitting fungoes to the infielders for early work on field 8.
Good work out. The infielders are sharp.


Thursday September 30

We get on the field and get to see the catching practice in the cages with Charlie Greene and Nestor Corredor.

Their practice is a well prepared routine. For those who attended the ABCA Convention of San Diego a few years ago or the German Clinic las year, it's pretty much the same routine that Charlie explained in his topics there.
Seeing live though brings a different perspective.
Halfway blocks, doubles, triples... off a pitching machine shooting sliders.
In another cage, Nestor is shooting balls for catchers to receive.  Some of these balls reach 102 MPH. And they handle it pretty well.


Wednesday - Camp day

Wednesday started strong as rehab guys were busy doing some shoulder strengthening exercises.
We took some pictures and videos of the exercises.

7.30 - Coach meeting.
8.00 - Early work with the infielders. Some news interesting drills and points are brought and and we take some notes of those.
8.40 - IPS Individual Position Skills.
We follow the catcher on one side, with Charlie Greene putting up a clinic in stance and signals.
On another field, we take some notes on outfield drills, PFPs and infield drills.

It's a short day, (Camp day, our team doesn't face another team), we head to the field to play an intrasquad game.


First steps on the field with the Brewers

This first day on the field, was certainly a great day.
Filip, arrived a day early but didn't take part to on-field activities because the Brewers want all their staff to pass a physical before they clear them to take the field.
Tuesday, by 9.30, that was done and things could really begin.
Here are some of the highlights of the day.

At 8.35, the pitchers who pitched on Monday gather in the classroom and look at the videos taken during their outing.
Pretty fascinating software. The pitchers are filmed from 4 different angles. The software, after some preparation work has been done, allows to see the pitching sequence of every batter of the game. Also, if you want to check all the low pitches on the video, you just click to a zone of the strike-zone, and it displays all the videos of those pitches, one after the other, in the angle you chose. Coaches do comment but not too much. Players need to see and be critical about what they did.
The thing wit the pitchers is that you sense a process where the pitchers is empowered in his own development. He is taught to become his own coach, down the road.


EBCA launches new website

EBCA launches new Website

The European Baseball Coaches Association is launching its new website.
This tool will help the organization to communicate more efficiently and more transparently with the baseball coaches interested in growing the game in Europe.
The new website will have many new features like:
  • Online membership application
  • Online Convention pre-registration
  • Online EBCA Exchange Program application
  • Awards year by year and much more…
Check it out www.baseball-in-europe.com


EBCA Exchange coach Van Der Meiren with the Brewers

Maryvale ballpark, Spring Training home of te Milwaukee Brewers
Since its creation in 2004, EBCA has tried to create opportunitiees for its coaches.
Over the years EBCA coaches have been sent with teams like the Rockies, White Sox… but not a regular basis.
Last year, EBCA decided to give a new face to its program and to make it available to more coaches.
In 2010, EBCA was able to send one of theirs with the Royals, in Surprise, near Phoenix, AZ, thanks to the collaboration with Major League Baseball and its Coach Development Program.
EBCA was then able to officially launch its EBCA Exchange Program, sending 3 coaches in US baseball organizations of various levels in the Spring of 2011.
A few months later, Filip Van Der Meiren, a coach from the MLB supported Belgian Baseball Academy is now selected to represent EBCA at the Fall Instructional League from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Van Der Meiren was an infielder in Belgium Division 1, winning many championships there. He faced the top European players with his club and the Belgian national team.
He also played college baseball and made it to the NAIA World Series tournament with Bellevue University.
In 2009, he hung up his cleats to be able to fully focus on the development of one of the 2 national MLB-endorsed academies as well as on the Belgian junior National Team he has been leading for the past 4 years.
tirennia 2011

"This is a lifetime opportunity that was presented to me, here. Spending time in this professional environment will be an awesome experience", says the 33 year old Belgian coach.
"It’s a great chance to learn things you can’t learn at clinics. It’s the hands-on instruction that any coach dreams about".

As an EBCA/MLB exchange coach, Filip will be taking part to the on-field activities of the Instructional League from the Brewers in Maryvale, near Phoenix, AZ.
From the 25th of September to the 7th of October, he will be exposed to the top young talent in the Brewers organization and will sure get a feel of the level to aim for with the academy program.
He will also have the opportunity to pick brains from some of the top teachers in the game in order to be able to spread that knowledge around Europe.
The EBCA Exchange Program blog will be fully active again during that period to let everybody get a taste of the experience.


UWW Spring Training vs. Allegheny

This was the next to last day of Spring Training and the Warhawks had completed their official schedule in Florida and played some reserve games today. The last of these was versus Allegheny which was a pleasant afternoon game which the Warhawks won easily. I have decided to dedicate this entry to third base as I will tomorrow to second. I have uploaded video of the third base warm ups and think these to be great snapshots of the proper form to field and throw from the third base position. Once again, the Warhawks are skilled in fielding through the ball and staying on their toes while getting their butts down and keeping all three eyes in full view.

On the next clip not much changes except that they are checking the runner at third before throwing over to first. Notice how the body continues to move and set up for the throw to first base. If the runner breaks for home, there will be plenty of time to adjust the body and to make an accurate throw home.

And finally, over to second base. Once again, the fielding is impeccable and the body is getting into position to deliver a quick and accurate throw.

After the days activities we relaxed to a nice plate of Spaghetti Carbonara back at the ranch. The recipe follows:

100g of bacon or pancetta

50g of grated pecorino romano cheese

50g of grated parmigiano cheese (or 100g of either if you cannot find both)

3 large eggs

350g spaghetti

2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

50g unsalted butter

Fine sea salt and freshley grated black pepper

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Finely chop the pancetta, having first removed any rind. Finely grate both cheeses and mix them together. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, season with a little freshly grated black pepper and set everything aside.

Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add the spaghetti and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).

Squash the garlic with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it. While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the pancetta with the garlic. Drop the butter into a large wide frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic. Leave these to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden and crisp. The garlic has now imparted its flavour, so take it out with a slotted spoon and discard.

Keep the heat under the pancetta on low.When the pasta is ready lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the pancetta (see left). Don't worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don't throw the rest of the pasta water away yet.

Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later. Take the pan of spaghetti and pancetta off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese and, using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn't scramble, and everything is coated. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don't want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.

Use a long-pronged fork to twist the pasta on to the serving plate or bowl. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water and the glossy sauciness will be revived.

When I prepared it, we added some green peas for flavor and color. If you would like to do the same you should simply add cooked green peas into the mix right at the end before serving.


Spring Training 2011 vs. Mt. Vernon Nazarene

Rob Coe recorded three more RBIs to add to his team leading total (14) as the Warhawks defeated Mt. Vernon Nazarene 8-6 on Monday in Auburndale, Florida. UW-W has won three straight and improves to 6-1 while Mt. Vernon Nazarene falls to 8-5. UW-W got on the board first in the top of the first when Coe pushed his first RBI across the plate on a ground out. UW-W built on that lead with two more in the top of the third, again thanks to Coe. Coe doubled in Daniel Putnam and Matt Meisenheimer who reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning. Mt. Vernon Nazarene closed the gap to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth scoring one run on a double to right center, but UW-W continued to pull away going up 5-1 in the top of the fifth and adding one more in the sixth. The Cougars tightened the score at 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth scoring a run on a single through the right side of the infield but two more UW-W insurance runs in the top of the eighth proved to be the difference in the game as Mt. Vernon plated four in the bottom half of the inning. Eric Schmitz struck out the final batter of the inning and got the Cougars to go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Some more pitching clinic courtesy Monsieur Lambert:

UWW Spring Training vs. St. Thomas - game 2

In the second game of the day, the Warhawks stumbled a bit. A five-run fourth inning for St. Thomas proved to be the difference maker in a 6-4 UW-Whitewater loss in Leesburg, Florida. The loss is the second of the season for UW-W who is now 5-2. St. Thomas made the first blow scoring on a sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the first. The 'Hawks answered with three in the bottom of the third to take a 3-1 lead. A Jeff Donovan triple with the bases loaded scored 3. However, UW-W relinquished their lead in the top of the fourth serving up five runs to go down 6-3. UW-W fought back tallying one run in the bottom of the eighth when, but UW-W was unable to complete the comeback and fell to St. Thomas 6-4. Notwithstanding this setback, the parents offered up a sumptuous Wisconsin style pot-luck dinner. I have never seen as many family and friends at a college Spring Training week and so it is a testament to their commitment and to the UW-W program's quality overall. Great pulled pork, and mac and cheese. There was much more, but I was glad to have a taste of Wisconsin while in Florida. Again, no recipes but there are a couple on the way!


Spring Training 2011 vs. St. Thomas

Matt Beyer recorded three RBI on a 2-for4 performance at the plate for the UW-Whitewater in its 7-6 win over St. Thomas on Sunday in Leesburg, Florida. The Warhawks jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first and the Tommies responded with four of their own in the bottom half of the frame to knot the score at 4-4. UW-W tacked on two more runs in the top of the third to go up 6-4 and they never relinquished their lead. The Tommies fought back to notch a run in the bottom of the fourth and the bottom of the seventh to inch closer at 7-6, but never overcame Kyle Lee's solid performance on the mound. Lee came on after two outs in the first and faced 33 batters, gave up seven hits, two runs, walked three and struck out three. Lee went eight innings to earn his first victory of the year in his first appearance. Colin Grove earned the save by retiring the final batter of the game with runners on first and second.

As pitching was a big part of today's win, i have put together some stills which demonstrate the consistently superior mechanics demonstrated thusfar by the Warhawk hurlers. We start with our hero today, Kyle Lee. Not scheduled to start, he came on in relief in the first inning and lasted until the ninth. Here is a breakdown of his delivery which is almost perfect at every point. The first is the point of arm seperation. Kyle has great arm extension after dropping the ball out of his glove:

Next, he is striding while bringing his arms to the throwing position. Can he tell time on both wrist watches? I think so:

Kyle moves forward and gets his arms in perfect position. Lead arm tucked, pulling his hips through the throwing motion for maximum result, elbow over the shoulder and fingers directly behind the ball:

Perfect follow-through:

And for those of you who still doubt me, check out those straight lines to the catcher from a more frontal view:

Thanks Kyle, you have made my job much easier!

Tonight we had at the Dockside Restaurant with an assortment of fried fish entres. Very good but no recipes sorry.


Spring Training 2011 vs. St. Olaf

Today things got serious with a double header against a big midwest rival in St Olafs. The games were played in the firendly confines of Pat Thomas Stadium which was built in 1937 and served as the 1960’s Sping Training complex for the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics. It was fantastic to think that such baseball greats as Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson made their first steps to greatness in this complex and the two teams seemed to step it up a notch for each game. Unfortunately, the Warhawks dropped their first game of the season in the opener notwithstanding the great pitching from Riley Tincher, a dominant lefty who will produce great things this season in Wisconsin. Game 2 was more to our liking with another dominant start from Jeff Donovan but with the much better score line of 7-2 in favor of Wisconsin Whitewater. So a split which in honesty probably should have been a sweep, but that's baseball.

As for the images and lessons, I spent a bit more time analyzing the hitters today and the focus on getting inside the ball with a focus on leading the swing with the hands and knob of the bat. This technique is to ensure that our weight stays behind the ball and that we are not overcommitting for either breaking pitches or overextending in the case of inside heat. The Warhawks are once again very well drilled in this art as can be seen for the short videos and the real game photos.

After the log day of baseball, we return to a feast of spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread. As requested, the recipe for the Spaghetti is below:

(For 4 servings)

1lb package Spaghetti (Barilla, De Cecco, Davilla)

1 small white onion

1 clove garlic

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 lb of diced pancetta (or lean bacon)

1lb lean ground beef

1 glass of red wine

1 pint (can) of chopped tomatoes

1 pint (can) of peeled whole tomatoes in tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of sea salt

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Thinly chop both the onion and the garlic and heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onions to the oil first and when translucent add the garlic and pancetta (or bacon) until all is golden brown. Add the ground beef stirring frequently until the beef is evenly browned throughout and add the red wine. Allow the red wine to reduce until about one quarter of the liquid has evaporated and add the tomatoes both chopped and peeled. With a wooden spon split the whole peeled tomatoes in the pan or before adding so that the tomatoes are at least halved. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes ar medium/low heat and add the bay leaf and some salt and pepper to taste and sitring frequently. Reduce to low heat, cover sauce pan and allow to simmer stirring occasionally for another 20 minutes. While waiting for the sauce to finish cooking put water to boil in a large pot and when boiling add the spaghetti and two tablespoons of sea salt. Stir the pasta to avoid sticking and reduce the heat to medium. The pasta should be ready after 10 minutes and should then be well strained and returned to the pot. Add two ladels of the sauce, which should now be ready, to the pot with the stained pasta and stir into the pasta thoroughly. This will help avoid the pasta sticking in the pot while serving. Serve the pasta into dishes individually adding a ladel of sauce to the top and offer the grated parmigiano cheese according to each diners taste. Enjoy!


Spring Training 2011 vs. Southern Maine - Day 4

Today the Warhawks took on Southern Maine in a Reserve Game at the beautiful Lake Myrtle Park complex. We arrived to a welcome sight for an adoptive Londoner, a thick and unpenetrable fog. The Florida sun did not take long to reaffirm its dominance and burned through the pea soup in just under an hour, but in the meantime, the Warhawks split into three stations of wiffle ball batting practice. The peculiar thing about this practice was the use of modified wiffle balls. These wiffle balls were covered with the normal baseball leather and some were drilled with holes. The use simulated the look and feel of real baseballs and the ones with holes added extra movement at the strike zone. The best part is the limited space necessary to conduct these batting practices and the limited damage these balls present. In fact, those shagging the balls being hit did not use gloves and could themselves refine their eye hand coordination and fielding technique.

In the photos, we highlight two wonderful sequences: The first is the anatomy of a caught stealing from the perspective of the shortstop covering the base and making the putout. Note the perfect position to receive the ball and the wonderful technique in applying the tag:

Second, we have the anatomy of knocking in a run. See the ball come off the bat and headed down the third base line. A wonderful follow through and notable is the base runner's eyes as he follows the flight of the ball over the thrid baseman's glove before breaking for home plate.

The Warhawks took this game as well.

Afterwards, the coaches got together and bought a grill so they could prepare some fantastic steaks. The marinade was prepared by the expert hands of Head Coach John Vodenlich and so I will give him the opportunity to write us a few words on how to prepare it.


Spring Training 2011 vs. St. Lawrence

On the first day of action, the Warhawks took on a French Canadian team from St Lawrence, Quebec at a very professional baseball complex at Lake Bonny. It was my first chance to see the team in action albeit the junior members of the squad, as it was a reserve game and did not count towards the teams regular season record. Nonetheless, it was also interesting for a London Met as St Lawrence is a club similar to our own and is not affiliated to a University as most teams for the 17-22 age group would be in the US.

The complex included three different diamonds and so we were able to conduct separate practices simultaneous batting, fielding, and pitching practices on each diamond. I even got a chance to throw some BP which was a humbling experience as I watched some balls take off into the trees beyond the confines of the field! I also saw a proper pregame warm-up before the actual game which the Warhawks eventually won.

At night back home it was my chance to show my hosts a taste of Europe, cooking the coaches a typical Apulian dish Spaghetti with Broccoli Rape. As promised and as will follow, I hereby include the recipe for this signature Italian dish.

(For 4 servings)

1lb package Spaghetti (Barilla, De Cecco, Davilla)

1 small white onion

1 clove garlic

2 anchovies (optional)

1 bunch of Broccoli Rape (Rapini or can be substituted with normal or tender stem Broccoli)

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of sea salt

Start trimming the Broccoli Rape which is essential done by discarding the tough part of the stems. You should be left with the leaves and rape flowers (cime di rape in Italian) but do not discard the whole stem as the parts near the leaves and flowers are tender enough to eat as well. When done by putting a pot of water over heat to boil. While the water is heating up, thinly chop both the onion and the garlic and heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the onions to the oil first and when translucent add the garlic until all is golden brown. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and reduce heat to medium. After two minutes, add the Broccoli Rape and the salt and allow all to cook together for another five minutes or until the Rape are tender. While waiting for the Pasta Rape mix to finish add the anchovies to the sauce mix and stir into the blend until the anchovies and oil fuse into a homogeneous liquid (the anchovies should not be discernible in the sauce). Drain the pasta and Rape when ready, return to pot, add the sauce and mix vigorously or until the ingredients seem evenly distributed. Serve and enjoy!


Last day (11) in Chicago's aera

Last day in Chicago which ends this amazing EBCA coache's exchange. It could be assumed that it would be quiet. But not! Until the end (leaving at 9.45 pm) Pete and I organized a busy day. First back to Hooters for lunch with those pretty waitresses ! I think my teammates will like the photos!... After this Pete wanted to show me Wrigley Field. Normally, it was impossible to visit it. But I was so lucky ... Pete met Mary Kusmirek (Cubs Exterior Stadium Operations Coordinator)walking on the sidewalk behind the left field. 1 minute later I was taking inside a special tour with her. Thank you so much Mary !
Next step was a stop downtown and arroud the lake. It was a great moment especially at St Patrick's Day. To close this exchange program, we scheduled a practice to see at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC Flames), Pete's team when he was student. I discovered the best (all in turf) field I ever seen before. There, the players did a strong practive. No time to stay, Coach Sean Mc Dermott made them work hard and we saw a lot of new drills. Thanks Sean for this awesome moment.
Now, a 3 hours before leaving I think how lucky a was to be there. So many people to thank: particularly the EBCA (and Christophe Dassy) for this first and huge program, all the coaches and players who wellcome me so friendly ! Finally my biggest thanks need to go to Al Budding, Beverly and Pete "GPS" Caliendo for hosting me so well. I had a lot of fun ! Hope to see you soon in France....


I finally got a good connection and so am loading the inflied pregame warmup as promissed.

I will be posting a seperate position each time from now on and start here with shortstop. The key is how the boys get around the ball whether they are throwing to first or second. This is to foster better fielding but also to ensure that momentum is always moving towards the base to which we are intending to throw. The Warhawk shortstops perform the moves with grace and precision.


Pietro Sollecito - UWW Exchange - n°2

We have completed our first full game of spring training with the Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks and I can honestly say that the players, teams and program seems to be of top quality. I have been lucky enough to immediately participate in the practice and pregame preperations which were executed flawlessly by this fine group of baseball professionals. I have recorded and am trying to post a few photos and a rough video shot at field level of the pregame infield drill.

Of the things to note in the drill most interesting are the constant movement and lack of interuption. The Warhawks all know how and what to do and execute without interuption or much instruction. As far as technique, I am hoping to bring back some good pointers on inflied footwork and to use this or other videos to demonstrate the correct footwork for approach, fielding and throwing on a ground ball play. Oh and yes, the weather is fantastic in Florida!!

As a final point, please make all the comments you want and especially questions on things which may be helpful for you. If I know what to look for from you then I am sure I can find it, film it and post it.



Day 8, 9 & 10 in Chicago's Area

Monday morning nice to stay home after this busy week-end... Afternoon we were going to Maine West High School. There we met Nelson C. Cord, Head Coach of the freshmen's team. The practice was scheduled outside. A lot of outfield routines to see. Despite the cold those young players were enthusiastic. But after 2 hours, we were totaly frozen !

We drove immediatly to Play Ball USA, the office and baseball facilitie of Nelson. There kids and girls can have private practices and lessons. This is the club housetoo for differents travel teams that Nelson is managing. After closing the office, I could had a BP practice with the objective to analyse my batting motion. A great moment especialy when he put the the film of my BP on the computer to see in details all my mouvements. Very rewarding.

Tuesday was a new big day too. First, Pete and I met Al Budding and Tom O'Connel (Vice-President of International Sports Group & Former President of the ABCA) at US Cellular Field Home of the White Sox. Due to Pete Catizone (WS Tickets Manager) we've got an unforgettable private visite of this huge field. A great time!

Later, back to St Charles High School for my last time with the North Stars. One part of this meeting was to analyse the pitcher's motion with me throwing. A good exercice to correct live the incorrect mechanics and a better way to adjust it for my future teaching. For myself, I would like to stay a little longer with this team a coaching staff for the opening day. Thanks to Tood, Terry, all the coaches and players for this amazing time with you. Have a succesfull season...

In the evening, we went to Professional Sports Performance in East Dundee. There Pete an d I had a private lesson to give. A nice facilitie for a very efficient infield practice. As often we drove back home late.

Today first quiet day. A little shopping, a nice tour in Chicago's suburds and country. In the evening I had a dinner whith Pete and Beverly Caliendo. The end of this trip sounds like to come...


Day 5 , 6 & 7 in Chicago's Area

Friday, Pete and I went to St Charles High School (North Stars). Here we could saw an infield- outfield practice. It was my first sunny day but cold and windy too... There, I spended a very good time with the coaches who run one of the best high school's program. Head Coach Todd Genke (Milwaukee Brewers AAA pitcher and Terry Ayers ABCA Hall of Farmer) introduce me during the coaches time. I had the possibility to present the goals of the EBCA exchange and more generaly the baseball situation in my french's area. After this, Pete had a seminar with Leattle League coaches from Huntley's aera. A very interesting time to discover the volunters baseball program in a nice place (Pro Player Academy).

Saturday, It was the biggest schedule that Pete organized. At 6 am ready to roll !

Pietro Sollecito - UWW Exchange

London, 14 March 2011

Well, I leave what is argueably the original seed of baseball today. It all began with the novel idea of throwing a solid ball to a batter who would hit it accurately and then run (somewhere) to score runs. The story seems to go that this concept evolved into cricket and rounders two games which were exported to the wider world by British sailors and settlers. In America, these games gave birth to a new form of bat and ball sport called baseball which saw its first professional experiments in either Cooperstown or Hoboken depending on who you believe!
This latest British bat and ball export does not pretend to be anywhere near as significant, but it is rather interesting to think about where baseball has gone and how much further it has to go. Perhaps the game will not have really achieved its full potential unless it can be retransported and fully integrated into the home from whence it originally began. Perhaps I can play a small part in that process. As a kid born in Hoboken, NJ, I am certainly intrigued by the possibilites.

I have posted a few photos from the London Mets' recent practice. I will miss the boys and girls we train at Finsbury Park, but I am sure that my experiences in the US will only contribute to the work we do in London through the summer. Wisconsin, here I come....