Israel Baseball Academy participants 2014.
(photo credit: MARGO SUGARMAN)
Baseball in Israel is changing… all for the better.
Among the many activities that are propelling Israeli baseball forward is this month’s launch of The Israel Association of Baseball’s first-ever Israel Baseball Academy.
Every year about 10 elite baseball players between 14 and 21 years old from all over Israel will be selected to participate in the year-long intensive program, which is recognized by Major League Baseball. This will enable the participants to gain access to MLB’s high-level programs for top European baseball players in Europe.
This year’s program got started in mid-October at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva, where 11 of Israel’s top baseball talents met to work on their skills and reach a higher level of the sport. The Academy is headed by IAB National Director Nate Fish, who is assisted by David Schenker, National Team coach, and Dan Rothem, former college pitcher and longtime Israel National Team player.
“This will open many doors that were previously closed to our players,” says Nate Fish, IAB national director and director of the academy. “The goal is to develop our top players so that they’re ready to compete on the highest levels, can train in the US, and play college and even professional baseball.”
“This program will ensure that we raise the level of Israel baseball so that we create an outstanding group of players who will be very active in the Israel National Team program, will coach younger players and will represent Israel baseball internationally,” notes Peter Kurz, president of the IAB.
As part of a long term plan for the academy, a group of 20 players have been placed on a scouting list as potential candidates for next year.
The players who were selected for the first year of the academy are very excited.
Ofer Bobrov, 15, has to be dedicated as he travels every week for two hours from Misgav in the North.
“I am very proud of being selected for the academy,” he says. “This is one way to achieve my goals, and it’s also a lot of fun to come out and play with players from all over Israel.”