Looking for more information about North High Baseball? Contact Head Coach Eric Janecek today! eric.janecek(at)ops.org and follow on X – @NorthBaseballNE – Instagram – Omaha_North_Baseball – Facebook – Omaha North Baseball.
What is your team outlook for 2024?
The Vikings are coming off a very successful season that broke the schools win record. We have a lot of players returning for that team. We are looking to be very competitive and possibly make a run to state.
How long have you been coaching high school baseball?
21 years. This will be my 10th year as head coach.
What inspired you to become a high school baseball coach?
When I was injured in college and rehabbing from surgery, I helped as an assistant for our Legion team in Council Bluffs. I went back to school I did not get my medical redshirt, so I was helped out around the program working with redshirt freshman pitchers. Being able to do that and see the success they had, I wanted to get into coaching right after I graduated.
What is your coaching philosophy when it comes to developing high school baseball players?
The game of baseball is constantly evolving. Getting kids to buy into the weight room, fall ball, and fall practices will help aid in every repetition they need to develop into successful baseball players.
Can you share some key principles you instill in your players regarding sportsmanship?
Our job is not to make our players embarrass their teammates, coaches, family members, and school. Don’t talk to the other teams’ players, and always be respectful to the umpires.
What is your approach to balancing academics and athletics for your players?
You cannot be an athlete before a student. The most important part is taking care of business in the classroom. If you cannot perform in the classroom, you will not perform on the field.
How do you address the varying skill levels and experience within the team?
During our fall and winter workouts, we give players every opportunity to participate. It does not matter if they’ve played elite level select ball or never played at all. Giving them these opportunities now will help them be ready for first day of spring practice.
Can you describe your strategy for preparing the team for important games or tournaments?
Our goal for every practice is to make it harder than the game. If they are successful at practice, they will be successful during the game. It also helps being able to set up a consistent pitching rotation so pitchers can start putting together their game plan.
How do you encourage players to set and work towards both individual and team goals?
We hold a team meeting for every level right after try-outs. During these meetings, we set our season goals and game goals. The #1 goal for every high school athlete should be to win a state championship. We set every other goal on how we are going to get there. Our game goals consist of offensive, defensive, and pitching goals. If we achieve more in game goals than fail, we will win most of those games.
What emphasis do you place on mental preparation?
Mental preparation is huge for any aspect in life. Baseball is a game that is more mentally taxing than physical. Baseball is a game based off of failure. We tell our players all the time that physical errors will happen. What is going to cost us games are the mental errors. Shake it off and move to the next play, pitch, or AB. Pouting or hanging your head effects the rest of your players and other teams can see that.
What role do statistics and analytics play in your coaching decisions?
Baseball is becoming a more analytical game. We use our offensive stats all the time when discussing our line-ups. We are big proponents of OBP. We want players at the top of the lineup that can get on base and cause havoc on bases for our middle of the lineup guys. Our bottom of the lineup guys needs to get on base for our top and middle guys.
How do you manage playing time and ensure fair opportunities for all team members?
Our lower-level teams are used for development. The players on those teams will get a lot of playing time. When it comes to varsity, the best 9 get their names of the lineup every game. If a player does not have their name on the starting 9, they have two options: They can sit and pout in the dugout or be a good teammate and cheer their teammates on. A good thing about having a deep roster means players are going to push each other because everyone wants their name in the starting 9.
What role do leadership and captaincy play within your team, and how are leaders selected?
During our team meeting, the players vote for 2 team captains. The captains are the voice of the players. We tell the players, if there is something they think we need to work on or improve, they need to tell the captains and they will come to us. The captains are in charge of putting together players activities outside of practices and games. As far as leadership goes, everyone needs to be a leader. Some leaders are vocal and some lead by how they play the game. No leadership is just a car stuck in mud. It goes nowhere.
What resources or facilities are available to the baseball team for practice and games?
We have the baseball field at Fontenelle Park for our games and practices. If the dirt is too wet, we take the infielders over to the softball field which is turf. We also use the old gym which has 2 batting cages and are for our 2 indoor mounds.
What qualities do you look for in assistant coaches to ensure a cohesive coaching staff?
Knowledge of the game is important. Being able to have compassion for the players and an understanding of their situation and abilities is more important.
What advice do you give to players aspiring to pursue baseball beyond high school?
They need to consider all levels. They have the opportunity to play a sport they love and have some of their schooling paid for as well. I have them give me a list of schools they want to go and then a couple dream schools. From there, I tell them to research the school about cost and majors. I will make the first connection with the schools. The players also need to make connections by going sending emails or going to their camps. We also tell them while they are considering schools, do you want to play right away or would you want to red-shirt your first year.
What services do you utilize to help players that want to pursue baseball beyond high school?
I use Field Level. We try and get video of each player so they can put that on their account. If they have video from their parents, I have them put that on as well.
How do you engage with parents to ensure a collaborative and supportive environment for the team?
During out parent meeting, I explain to the parents there are things I will discuss with them and somethings that I will not explain to them. I want their son to be able to advocate for himself. We also use the app called Stack Team. We put all our documents on the app and is easy to communicate with parents that way.
What else should we know about your baseball program?
Omaha North is a school that had a rich baseball history. We are slowly building back to that success. We explain to them that life is not going to be easy. Every day is going to be different. How you handle the classroom, hallways, and baseball will prepare for life after baseball. Do not expect things to be handed to you. You have worked hard in everything you have done in school to earn your success. Take that same mindset out in the real world.