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My passion – our talk with Paweł – President of the “1st Lublin Baseball & Softball Club”

Join us for another interview in our passions and interests series. Have a good read!

Paweł – long-time employee of Aliplast (CNC department), President of the Association “1st Lublin Baseball & Softball Club” and assistant coach at Hops Lublin. He holds a coaching certificate issued by the PZBall (Polish Baseball and Softball Association).

  • Tell us, Paweł, when your adventure in baseball and softball began?

I became interested in baseball as early as in the previous century. It was somewhere around 1992 and 1993. Together with my classmates, we bounced crab apples of with a piece of board on the “Swidniczanka” pitch. At that time, no one had yet imagined the ubiquitous Internet and “Uncle Google”, and the available sources of information were television, newspapers and foreign-language magazines. At that time, it was quite an effort to get the basic rules of the game, but we managed. It wasn't until 1995 that I met our current coach, Igor Gorzelski, who ran a summer baseball school through the OLIMP Foundation in Lublin. And it all started at that point. At the summer school I got to know my new teammates, learned the rules of the game, and together with more than forty boys we played baseball for two weeks during the summer holidays. That was enough to ignite my enthusiasm for the discipline. A year later there was another edition of the summer school, and the first trips to league matches were organised. Later, studies and work somewhat hampered my playing, but after a few years I returned to my favourite sport. In 2013, I joined the Ravens Lublin team, formed a year earlier by a student from the Catholic University of Lublin. Together with Igor, my colleagues from the summer school and others who joined us in 2013, we helped him to grow the team. In 2014, we founded the sports association the “1st Lublin Baseball & Softball Club – Ravens Lublin” New people started joining the team. We trained, played friendly games and eventually entered the Silesian League in 2017 and the Baltic Baseball League in 2018 and 2019. Since last year, we have also been training Slowpitch Softball, in which have some success.

  • And why did you specifically go for baseball and softball? These disciplines are rather not very popular in Poland.

I used to play football as a child, because whoever wouldn't play would be out of the crowd. But I didn’t feel that it was my sport. I also enjoy playing basketball, but playing basketball has contributed to my injury, which I still struggle with today. On the other hand, baseball and softball give me what the previous sports can't offer. These are unique sports that require focus at all times. Before your opponent hits the ball, you need to have at least two scenarios, anticipating what will happen when the ball goes to the left or what I should do when it bounces to my right. They teach nine individuals on the field to work together, to function as one team. The very fact that you need a leather glove, an aluminium, wooden or composite bat to play and, on top of that, you throw a leather-clad ball makes these sports challenging and fascinating. It’s my passion. And I have just planted instilled it in my children, my goddaughter and their friends. Learning baseball and softball gives me a lot of satisfaction. We are joined by new people who share our passion. And the added value of our efforts is that our youngest players are getting better and better on the field.

  • How do you feel about working with children or young people?

Working with children, young people or even adults gives me great satisfaction. I know I'm passing on my knowledge, a bit of my own story, as I've been involved in baseball for more than 28 years. This way, more people will get to know the discipline. This year is a special year for us because we have been joined by a lot of the youngest kids with great potential and, most importantly, a desire to play this sport. Of course, it's not always nice and easy because everyone is different and sometimes they have a bad day, and it's the coach's role to tame them. Our 'new people' contradict the cliché that nowadays young people do not want to exercise. They are demanding but it's good, as it motivates us, the coaching staff, to organise their training time in such a way as not to introduce boredom and routine. Often, at the end of a three- or four-hour training session, they still have the strength to hit the ball a few more times. And you hear them shouting one after the other, “now me, now me” or “I’m next after you”.

  • Is this your first time working with children?

No, it's not my debut. I took my first steps coaching my son Mikołaj, from the day he, as an 8-year-old, first came to training on Children's Day in 2013. We always took gloves with us when we went on holiday. And then we threw the ball on the beach. First it was my son who took his first baseball steps, and now he is the first-team player, and in time we were joined by our daughter Gabriela, who started at the age of 5 or 6 and is now excelling on the field as the youngest in the Hops Lublin line-up.

  • What is the story behind the name Hops Lublin?

It was the idea of our coach Igor Gorzelski. We accepted the name Ravens Lublin out of courtesy because we joined a team that had already existed for a year, but it didn't seem to fit the Lublin region very well. At the end of 2022, it was time for change. After a break of more than two years due to the pandemic, we were back on the field and ready to try a new version of baseball, and it was the best time to refresh our image. The name is closely associated with the Lublin region. Here grows one of the most popular varieties of hops, namely Lubelski. Other names that came to our minds were already taken by other baseball and softball teams.

  • How can one join Hops Lublin?

Just contact us by phone, email or via our Hops Lublin fan page on Facebook where all contact details are available.

  • Are you planning to take part in some competitions?

Sure we do. Actually, we're already taking part. Last year, the idea of playing one of the varieties of baseball, Slowpitch Softball, was born. We took part in the Polish Amateur Slowpitch League and continue to do so to this day. We finished last season as runners-up in the PALS league and are the current champions of the Wrocław Cup 2022 International Tournament. This year, for the first time in the history of the team and Lublin, we organised a tournament on home ground, which took place on 24.06 and featured teams from Warsaw, Wrocław and Katowice. Ahead of us are two more league tournaments, one in Wrocław and one in Katowice, as well as the Wrocław international tournament.

  • What was your position on the pitch?

Second baseman and first baseman

  • Your favourite player?

Javier Baez

  • Which team(s) do you support?

Detroit Tigers, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs

Thank you, Paweł, for the enjoyable conversation and for sharing some of your rich knowledge of baseball and softball. We wish you further success!

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