By Hye Jung Hwang] “It was a great experience for me. I made a lot of memories and learned a lot, and I’ll never forget it.”

The Korean women’s national baseball team is taking a break from the challenge to catch their breath. In late May, the team competed in the 2023 Women’s Baseball Asian Cup (BFA), and in early August, they qualified for the 2024 Women’s 꽁머니 Baseball World Cup (WBSC). Joining the team were coaches Yang Sang-moon, Jung Geun-woo, Heo Il-sang, and Lee Dong-hyun, as well as coach Yoo Won-sang, who joined the team after the World Cup.

Yang, Jung, Heo, Il-sang, Dong-hyun, and Jung Yong-woon, who did not attend the World Cup due to personal reasons, personally selected 20 players through the national selection tournament in late February.

They led the team to a bronze medal behind Japan and Chinese Taipei at the Asian Cup, which earned them a spot in the World Cup Qualifiers in Thunder Bay, Canada. However, the team felt the ‘world wall’ at the World Cup Qualifiers and lost all five games, failing to qualify for the main event. As a result, the team said goodbye to its strongest coaching staff.

Yang Sang-moon coaches the women’s national baseball team. Reported by Hwang Hye-jung from Thunder Bay (Canada).

Yang, who decided to become the national team coach last December and formed the ‘Yang Sang-moon Division’ with a group of coaches who were former KBO players, said, “I was able to come to Canada because of the support from all walks of life in a difficult and tough situation. However, I am sorry and heartbroken that I was unable to achieve good results,” he said, bowing his head.

“I think the experience of playing in such a big tournament and facing world-class players gave us a chance to grow a little more, but I could feel the players’ growth from the first game (against Hong Kong) to the last game (against Canada). I hope the Korean public will show a lot of interest in women’s baseball in the future,” he said, calling for the development of women’s baseball until the end.

Coach Jung, who was the head coach and fielding coach, said, “I had a really good time with the players over the past six months. It was a great experience for me, and I made a lot of memories. I learned more from the players than they did, and I will never forget these times,” he said with tears in his eyes.

Coach Heo Il-sang gives instructions. Thunder Bay (Canada) | Hye Jung Hwang.

Coach Heo Il-sang, who was the battery coach and organized the pitcher’s and catcher’s pitches throughout the game, said, “It’s too cool and scary. It’s more uncomfortable than cool. It’s too bad and unfortunate, and although we didn’t have a good result in this World Cup, we gained a lot. I think my baseball life will change greatly in the future after seeing the players working hard with passion. I will live harder,” he said.

Coach Lee Dong-hyun, who was the pitching coach, said, “I’ve been crying ever since. I’m very sorry. I’m so grateful that the players followed me. Thank you for playing hard and not giving up until the last game. It was a great life lesson for me too. I hope many people will be interested in women’s baseball in the future.”

Coach Yoo Won-sang, who joined the team as a pitching coach after the World Cup, said, “I’m very disappointed. I should have helped them more, but I’m sorry that they didn’t win a game. This is my first time experiencing the world of women’s baseball. I learned a lot from watching my friends play baseball with such passion. I’m also sad that the game is over. I am grateful to have shared many memories and learned a lot with my good friends.”

After the final game, the players and coaching staff gathered together to thank each other. It is said that the players, as well as coach Yang Sang-moon and the coaching staff, shed tears at this time.

They were grateful for each other. The players were able to fulfill their “thirst for learning” by receiving guidance from professional baseball stars.

“The details are different. The coaches’ casual remarks like, ‘Do this, do that, do this, do that, do that, do that, do that, do that, do that,’ and they were amazed.” The coaching staff is also impressed by the passion of the girls. That’s why they’ve been coming to the team’s training sessions every week for more than six months with little more than transportation costs.

Their time with the team came to an end after the Canada game. It’s the end of their time together as players and coaching staff, but their relationship will continue. The memories of every day and every moment of the intense summer are eternal.

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