Team Israel has come a long way in the 2019 European Championships and is on the way to the Olympics Games Qualifiers in Italy. Behind this phenomenal team of talented and dedicated players is another, lesser known team that supports the players and plays a significant role. Meet the team behind Team Israel.  

PeterKurz 2016

PETER KURZ: Team Israel General Manager and President of the Israel ssociation of Baseball (IAB)

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Dealing with my nerves and controlling my emotions

Best moment so far: Winning the B Pool of the European Championships in Bulgaria in July.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelancer in export of Israeli companies

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Winner of the A Pool of the European Championships, and 5,000 kids playing ball on 10 fields in Israel.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The best is yet to come...

Eric

ERIC HOLTZ: Head Coach

Time with Team Israel: 2-1/2 years

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Managing the pitching/innings for all of the games played

Best moment so far: Advancing to Italy and making it to the qualifiers

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I own and operate a Baseball facility in New York where we train young athletes from ages 5 to 75 and currently play on several teams as well

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Hopefully we continue to do well and the success that we’ve had will inspire young athletes to join this team five years from now

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every time I get to suit up in uniform representing Israel

Nate

NATE MULBERG: Assistant Coach

Responsibilities include coaching first base, throwing batting practice in-game management, and helping to create a positive environment throughout the experience for everyone.

Time with Team Israel: This is my first tournament with Team Israel.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: At first, I thought my biggest challenge was going to be feeling comfortable with a new team and getting to know everyone, but I soon realized Team Israel is comprised of a special group of staff members, coaches and players. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel part of the Team Israel family immediately. I am so thankful for that! The biggest difficulty I have faced has been coping with the massive time difference and jet-lag.

Best moment so far: Our 4-2 win vs. Germany, especially when Ty Kelly hit his game-tying, 2-out RBI single in the 8th inning and when Jon DeMarte pitched out of a 9th-inning, 0-out, man-on-third-base jam to get our Germany game into extra innings.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel:  When I am not coaching Team Israel, I am an Assistant Baseball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years, I see Team Israel as a worldwide baseball power, ranked in the Top 10 worldwide.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Without question, my favorite part of the tournament day has been spending time at the hotel with all of the amazing staff members and players on Team Israel. Getting to know each player and person has been so interesting, as we have so many people involved with Team Israel from different walks of life.

Richard

RICHARD KANIA: Bench Coach

Responsibilities include hitting fungo, doing pitching chart whatever is needed.

Time with team Israel: I´ve been with Israeli baseball since 2008. Since 2010 with the SNT. Tournaments: B pool European Championships  in 2010 (Israel) 1. WBC Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. C Pool European Championship in Slovenia, B Pool Championships in Vienna and Beograd. B Pool Championship in Blagoevgrad, Super Finale in Utena.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Game against the Czech Team, since I was the Czech SNT coach prior to coming to Israel (2007)

Best moment so far: Winning game against Germany and France  and meeting the great players.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I teach at a high school (English and Physical Training) + coaching a youth team in Prague

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: With team like this we can be anywhere :-), but we need to use this to grow baseball in Israel and to educate players and coaches there.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Seeing the team pull together and work as one. As Eric says: No egos, just a team!

Kaz

KAZUMASA (KAZ) KIBE: Bench Coach

Responsbilities include batting pitcher, trainer, sports massage

Time with team Israel:The first time coaching the team.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Team mood.

Best moment so far: Simon Rosenbaum's home run in the fianl game of the B Pool against Russia.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: A baseball coach in Israel

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Blake Gailen batting

Andrew

ANDREW LORRAINE: Pitching Coach

Time with team Israel: Since the start...2012 WBC qualifiers ..2016/17 WBC

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Crash course with so many new faces 

Best moment so far: Just being with team Israel and wearing the Star of David on the baseball field 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: A force in not just European baseball but a competitive team worldwide 

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The victory vs Germany in the 10th inning and the qualifying win vs France to go to Italy

Alex

ALEX JACOBS: Advance Scout/Pseudo Bench Coach

Time with team Israel: Since 2012. I was assisting with the WBC in 2012 as well as 2017. This is my first opportunity to contribute to Israel Baseball.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: These opponents are tough! Compiling information about our opponents to put together game strategy with our staff.

Best moment so far: There never is just one moment. Just being together as a group and playing the game. Winning is always nice, but being a part of a group that has the same goals and intentions is very special.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I work as a Special Assignment Scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Team Israel will soon be competing for a spot in the Premier 12 within the next decade.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: A large majority of my day is spent in the concierge lounge watching video on our opponents and collaborating with staff on a game plan. When I can, I will explore these cities, but most of the time is preparing for our next opponent.

Dan

DAN ROOTENBERG: Team Physical Therapist

Time with team Israel:  Have been with team Israel since 2012 when the first WBC team was formed.  Prior to that was first player signed in the 2007 when pro baseball was started in the Israel Baseball League 

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Keeping our talented athletes on the field and healthy so they can perform at their highest levels thus giving the team the best chance to win.   

Best moment so far: The highlight of the tournament for me by far was beating on consecutive days the German team and Great Britain which certainly would have evoked disbelief just a few years ago (as written by D. Grossman in the JPost.)   

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am the CEO of SPEAR Physical Therapy.  We have 18 locations in New York and help over 350,000 people become better versions of themselves each year. 

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years team Israel will have some 2nd generation players.  It will be a balanced mixed of native born Israeli athletes and Jews who have made Aliyah and will be getting ready for another Olympic qualifier  

Highlight of the tournament day for you: My favorite moment of each game is the Hatikva. It means we all put in our prep work to get to that point and it reminds me of what unites everyone on the team. It also reminds me of my father Jay who was born in Palestine in 1936. My dad was at the intersection of baseball and Israel in my life, and my contribution is in his memory.  

Sydni

SYDNI HOLTZ: Team Nurse, Assistant Trainer

Time with team Israel: I have been involved with Team Israel for 3 years now. I started with the B Pool Tournament in Serbia back in 2017 and have been with them this whole summer in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Germany.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Trying to help keep the players feeling their best. We play a bunch of games in a short time frame so it’s imperative we make sure everyone is taken care of and injury free.

Best moment so far: Winning the quarter-final game against France. Winning guaranteed us a spot in Italy next week; we are one step closer to the Olympics!

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. I have played and been around this sport for as long as I can remember, and I previously attended New York University where I was a pitcher for the softball team. Many of my friendships, favorite memories, and greatest life lessons have come from growing up around baseball.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see Team Israel continuing to grow and build. My hope is that the successes of our team will encourage the younger players in Israel to continue to work hard and improve so that they will one day be representing their country on this team.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The highlight of game days for me is watching the guys stand on the line for the playing of Hatikvah. It is awesome seeing so many guys from different backgrounds coming together for one common goal: to represent Israel.

Jordy

JORDY ALTER: IAB Vice President, Team Gopher (self defined)

Time with team Israel: Lost count

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Finding an open laudromat in the various towns and cities we play in.

Best moment so far: Beating Team Germany on their home soil.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Tooth schlepper (AKA dentist)

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing in Bet Shemesh on our new field

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every moment

Yaron

YARON EREL: IAB treasurer and special assistant to the general manager

Responsibilties include booking hotels, plane tickets, making sure there’s money for all expenses

Time with team Israel: 13 years, about 20 different tournaments from u12 and up.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Making sure everyone gets where they need to be on time, safe and happy, and with their suitcases.

Best moment so far: Win against Russia in the B Pool of the European Championships in July, with a tie game, Tal (Erel) at bat, kept fouling the balls until Russia’s pitcher threw 2 wild pitches and we scored our 4th and 5th run to win the game.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Senior relationship manager at Leumi Private banking, head of Ultra High Net worth customer team.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing on highest level tournaments with many Israeli born players in the roster.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The win against Germany in extra inning and Tal Erel's single RBI against Great Britain with 2 strikes and 2 outs.

Margo

MARGO SUGARMAN: Team Israel Media Liaison, Team Photographer, (sometimes team mom) and Secretary General of the IAB

Time with Team Israel: My time with the senior team began at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in 2016. I have also been manager of many national youth teams since 2011.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Editing the hundreds of photos I’ve shot during that day's game, writing a game summary, and getting all this material to our colleagues in the press before I miss the deadline in this crazy 24/7 news world. That’s in addition to posting the game results all our social media pages, trying to respond all the many comments from our fans, and uploading all the photos to our Facebook page before the players start asking for them. And repeating it all againt the next day!

Best moment so far: Watching the team win against Germany in 10th inning tie breaker at the end of the most stressful game I’ve ever seen. Also, seeing Nick Rickles, Rob Paller and Danny Valencia all hit home runs in the quarter-final win against France.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelance business communications consultant.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see the players who today are representing Israel in our Under 16 and 18 teams, and doing an amazing job, taking their places in the Senior National Team and proving what a great program we’ve built over the years to develop our local Israeli talent.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Having a laugh with the players.

 

 

 

PETER KURZ: Team Israel General Manager and President of the Israel ssociation of Baseball (IAB)

Time with Team Israel: 20 years, countless tournaments...over 15

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Dealing with my nerves and controlling my emotions

Best moment so far: Winning the B Pool of the European Championships in Bulgaria in July.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelancer in export of Israeli companies

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Winner of the A Pool of the European Championships, and 5,000 kids playing ball on 10 fields in Israel.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The best is yet to come...

  PeterKurz 2016

ERIC HOLTZ: Head Coach

Time with Team Israel: 2-1/2 years  

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Managing the pitching/innings for all of the games played

Best moment so far: Advancing to Italy and making it to the qualifiers 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I own and operate a Baseball facility in New York where we train young athletes from ages 5 to 75 and currently play on several teams as well

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Hopefully we continue to do well and the success that we’ve had will inspire young athletes to join this team five years from now

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every time I get to suit up in uniform representing Israel

  Eric

NATE MULBERG: Assistant Coach.

Responsibilities include coaching first base, throwing batting practice in-game management, and helping to create a positive environment throughout the experience for everyone.

Time with Team Israel: This is my first tournament with Team Israel.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: At first, I thought my biggest challenge was going to be feeling comfortable with a new team and getting to know everyone, but I soon realized Team Israel is comprised of a special group of staff members, coaches and players. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel part of the Team Israel family immediately. I am so thankful for that! The biggest difficulty I have faced has been coping with the massive time difference and jet-lag.

Best moment so far: Our 4-2 win vs. Germany, especially when Ty Kelly hit his game-tying, 2-out RBI single in the 8th inning and when Jon DeMarte pitched out of a 9th-inning, 0-out, man-on-third-base jam to get our Germany game into extra innings.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel:  When I am not coaching Team Israel, I am an Assistant Baseball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years, I see Team Israel as a worldwide baseball power, ranked in the Top 10 worldwide.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Without question, my favorite part of the tournament day has been spending time at the hotel with all of the amazing staff members and players on Team Israel. Getting to know each player and person has been so interesting, as we have so many people involved with Team Israel from different walks of life.

  Nate

RICHARD KANIA: Bench Coach

Responsibilities include hitting fungo, doing pitching chart whatever is needed.

Time with team Israel: I´ve been with Israeli baseball since 2008. Since 2010 with the SNT. Tournaments: B pool European Championships  in 2010 (Israel) 1. WBC Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. C Pool European Championship in Slovenia, B Pool Championships in Vienna and Beograd. B Pool Championship in Blagoevgrad, Super Finale in Utena.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Game against the Czech Team, since I was the Czech SNT coach prior to coming to Israel (2007)

Best moment so far: Winning game against Germany and France  and meeting the great players.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I teach at a high school (English and Physical Training) + coaching a youth team in Prague

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: With team like this we can be anywhere :-), but we need to use this to grow baseball in Israel and to educate players and coaches there.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Seeing the team pull together and work as one. As Eric says: No egos, just a team!

  Richard

KAZUMASA (KAZ) KIBE: Bench Coach

Responsbilities include batting pitcher, trainer, sports massage

Time with team Israel:The first time coaching the team.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Team mood.

Best moment so far: Simon Rosenbaum's home run in the fianl game of the B Pool against Russia.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: A baseball coach in Israel

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Blake Gailen batting

  Kaz
 ANDREW LORRAINE: Pitching Coach

Time with team Israel: Since the start ...2012 WBC qualifiers ..2016/17 WBC

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Crash course with so many new faces 

Best moment so far: Just being with team Israel and wearing the Star of David on the baseball field 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: A force in not just European baseball but a competitive team worldwide 

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The victory vs Germany in the 10th inning and the qualifying win vs France to go to Italy

  Andrew
ALEX JACOBS: Advance Scout/Pseudo Bench Coach

Time with team Israel: Since 2012. I was assisting with the WBC in 2012 as well as 2017. This is my first opportunity to contribute to Israel Baseball.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: These opponents are tough! Compiling information about our opponents to put together game strategy with our staff.

Best moment so far: There never is just one moment. Just being together as a group and playing the game. Winning is always nice, but being a part of a group that has the same goals and intentions is very special.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I work as a Special Assignment Scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Team Israel will soon be competing for a spot in the Premier 12 within the next decade.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: A large majority of my day is spent in the concierge lounge watching video on our opponents and collaborating with staff on a game plan. When I can, I will explore these cities, but most of the time is preparing for our next opponent.

  Alex
DAN ROOTENBERG: Team Physical Therapist  

Time with team Israel:  Have been with team Israel since 2012 when the first WBC team was formed.  Prior to that was first player signed in the 2007 when pro baseball was started in the Israel Baseball League 

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Keeping our talented athletes on the field and healthy so they can perform at their highest levels thus giving the team the best chance to win.   

Best moment so far: The highlight of the tournament for me by far was beating on consecutive days the German team and Great Britain which certainly would have evoked disbelief just a few years ago (as written by D. Grossman in the JPost.)   

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am the CEO of SPEAR Physical Therapy.  We have 18 locations in New York and help over 350,000 people become better versions of themselves each year. 

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years team Israel will have some 2nd generation players.  It will be a balanced mixed of native born Israeli athletes and Jews who have made Aliyah and will be getting ready for another Olympic qualifier  

Highlight of the tournament day for you: My favorite moment of each game is the Hatikva. It means we all put in our prep work to get to that point and it reminds me of what unites everyone on the team. It also reminds me of my father Jay who was born in Palestine in 1936. My dad was at the intersection of baseball and Israel in my life, and my contribution is in his memory.  

  Dan

SYDNI HOLTZ: Team Nurse, Assistant Trainer.

Time with team Israel: I have been involved with Team Israel for 3 years now. I started with the B Pool Tournament in Serbia back in 2017 and have been with them this whole summer in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Germany.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Trying to help keep the players feeling their best. We play a bunch of games in a short time frame so it’s imperative we make sure everyone is taken care of and injury free.

Best moment so far: Winning the quarter-final game against France. Winning guaranteed us a spot in Italy next week; we are one step closer to the Olympics!

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. I have played and been around this sport for as long as I can remember, and I previously attended New York University where I was a pitcher for the softball team. Many of my friendships, favorite memories, and greatest life lessons have come from growing up around baseball.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see Team Israel continuing to grow and build. My hope is that the successes of our team will encourage the younger players in Israel to continue to work hard and improve so that they will one day be representing their country on this team.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The highlight of game days for me is watching the guys stand on the line for the playing of Hatikvah. It is awesome seeing so many guys from different backgrounds coming together for one common goal: to represent Israel.

  Sydni

JORDY ALTER: IAB Vice President, Team Gopher (self defined)

Time with team Israel: Lost count

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Finding an open laudromat in the various towns and cities we play in.

Best moment so far: Beating Team Germany on their home soil.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Tooth schlepper (AKA dentist)

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing in Bet Shemesh on our new field

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every moment

Jordy

YARON EREL: IAB treasurer and special assistant to the general manager.

Responsibilties include booking hotels, plane tickets, making sure there’s money for all expenses

Time with team Israel: 13 years, about 20 different tournaments from u12 and up.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Making sure everyone gets where they need to be on time, safe and happy, and with their suitcases.

Best moment so far: Win against Russia in the B Pool of the European Championships in July, with a tie game, Tal (Erel) at bat, kept fouling the balls until Russia’s pitcher threw 2 wild pitches and we scored our 4th and 5th run to win the game.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Senior relationship manager at Leumi Private banking, head of Ultra High Net worth customer team.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing on highest level tournaments with many Israeli born players in the roster.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The win against Germany in extra inning and Tal Erel's single RBI against Great Britain with 2 strikes and 2 outs.

Yaron
MARGO SUGARMAN: Team Israel Media Liaison, Team Photographer, (sometimes team mom) and Secretary General of the IAB

Time with Team Israel: My time with the senior team began at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in 2016. I have also been manager of many national youth teams since 2011.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Editing the hundreds of photos I’ve shot during that day's game, writing a game summary, and getting all this material to our colleagues in the press before I miss the deadline in this crazy 24/7 news world. That’s in addition to posting the game results all our social media pages, trying to respond all the many comments from our fans, and uploading all the photos to our Facebook page before the players start asking for them. And repeating it all againt the next day!

Best moment so far: Watching the team win against Germany in 10th inning tie breaker at the end of the most stressful game I’ve ever seen. Also, seeing Nick Rickles, Rob Paller and Danny Valencia all hit home runs in the quarter-final win against France.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelance business communications consultant.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see the players who today are representing Israel in our Under 16 and 18 teams, and doing an amazing job, taking their places in the Senior National Team and proving what a great program we’ve built over the years to develop our local Israeli talent.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Having a laugh with the players.

Margo
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