Although frustrated at the threshold of winning, the passion and performance that Water Safe showed in this Blue Dragon was amazing. Until he advanced to the finals of his first national tournament, the water vault caused a series of disturbances, such as a 10-point reverse drama (final of 16 in the tournament) and a win over a prestigious baseball high school. Although the championship was thwarted by the wall of Gyeongbuk High School in the final, the water safe brought a new wind to high school baseball with ‘Underdog’s Rebellion’.
Deep regret was evident in the voice of coach Choi Geum-gang, who coached the water vault players. Coach Choi said in a phone call with this magazine after the game, “The players did really well, but it’s a pity (losing in the final). The children are really proud of it,” he said. He said, 토토 “The players have suffered a lot while training hard in a baseball field with no shade, but I feel good that the players have been compensated at least a little in this tournament.”
Coach Geumgang Choi listed the names of the players who suffered and said, “Thank you and I am proud of you.” Coach Choi said, “(Gong) Min-seo received the most hits (12) and did well, and on the mound (Cho) Dong-hui threw well even though he was a freshman. (Bae) Kang Hyun also lags behind for a while, probably because of the burden of his third year, but he did well in this tournament, and (Seo) Bo Han did not expect to do so well, but he threw well. (Park) Se-hyeon gave me strength while burning his will to participate despite the pain,” he said, thanking each and every one of them.
Every step of the process, from the founding to the first final, was impressive to Coach Choi. In the round of 16, he met Masan High School, which had never won in two years, and won his first victory with a come-from-behind drama that overturned the inferiority by 10 points. They achieved the feat of advancing to the semifinals of the first national competition by hitting them. Coach Geumgang Choi said, “We were lucky with the weather, but most of all, I think it was because of the passion and effort of the players that we reached a higher level. I am very grateful to the players who made this experience possible.”
However, we cannot forget the credit of coach Choi Geum-gang, who guided the players so that they could achieve good results. Sometimes, he encouraged the players with warm encouragement, while when necessary, he corrected the player’s mentality with a sharp word.
In the round of 16 overturning the 10-point lead, coach Choi Geum-gang gave a warm word of encouragement to freshman Dong-Hwi Cho, who took the mound with a one-point lead of 13-12. Coach Choi said, “There is no need to be shaken up by tying or reversing. Rather, it is the opposing team that is in a hurry, and you only need to calmly throw your ball,” advising him and instilling courage. As a result, Dong-Hwi Cho kept the team’s victory by blocking 5 scoreless innings.
But he was different with Servo Han. After coming out as a starter in the round of 16 and giving up 4 runs in 2⅓ innings, he made a comeback in the 7th inning of the quarterfinal against Chungam High School with 2 outs and bases loaded. Coach Choi Geum-gang pushed him hard. To him on the mound with the score tied 7-7, Coach Choi said, “You (as a starter) are responsible for the team struggling against Masan Classic. However, my teammates won the game and led well to a tie today. If you have the responsibility of an ace, you must stop it unconditionally by throwing it dead.” Seo Bo-Han, who climbed the mound like that, overcame the crisis with a full base, and led the team to the first semi-finals by blocking the strong Chungam High School batting line with 2 runs in 2⅓ innings. It was the result of coach Choi’s carrot and stick.
Even though he was a novice coach in his second year, he skillfully guided the players. Coach Geumgang Choi said that his experience as a player has been of great help to him as a leader. Coach Choi, who started his professional career as a founding member of the NC Dinos in 2012, has built his career by playing for nine years until 2021. In 2015, he played the role of a winning team with 14 holds, and in 2016, with 11 wins, he stepped on the starting mound in the Korean Series. After leaving the team in the winter of 2021, Choi Keum-gang started his leadership career in the water vault the following year, coaching young players based on his various experiences in the professional world, and brought the team to the final of the national championship.
Coach Keum-gang Choi said, “As he coaches the players, he brings back a lot of his experience from his professional days. He is instructing the players, remembering things like ‘what coach Choi Il-eon did at a time like this, and what coach Ji Yeon-gyu said at a time like that’.” It’s not just about giving directions. He said, “I fully explain the reason to the pitchers before the game and give them instructions after convincing them.” Coach Choi said, “I consult a lot with pitchers and catchers. I can’t say that the results are good every time, but fortunately, the players trust me and follow me.” He added, “It’s really fun and proud to coach the players.”
Having tasted the heat of the finals of the national championship, the water safe now begins to temper itself again toward the National Bonghwangdaegi National High School Baseball Championship to be held in August. He is also preparing for another new history by representing Gyeongnam at the National Sports Festival (National Sports Festival) held in October.
Coach Geumgang Choi said, “During the Golden Lion Season in May, the players were very nervous and didn’t show a good performance, but this tournament must have given them a lot of confidence. I will prepare well and look at a higher place in the phoenix.” He said, “The level of completion is not yet high compared to other teams in terms of power. However, the players are working hard even in a bad environment, so please support them a lot.”