By Sean Rooney on January 10, 2019.
There’s a new face on the Medicine Hat College men’s volleyball team this semester, and he won’t be seeing a second of court time.
But make no mistake, Predrag (Baki) Sreckovic will help the Rattlers a lot as they push towards a potential playoff berth.
The 51-year-old from Serbia is the father of first-year setter Nikola Sreckovic, and will be a volunteer assistant coach. He played on the Serbian national team when he was younger and has the same 30 years of coaching under his belt as Rattlers head man Mark Porter.
Porter suggested the temporary position in part because of some talks the two had back when he came to Serbia to watch Nikola play before signing him.
“This stems from when he picked me up at the airport in Bulgaria, when we traveled to Belgrade together and sat and talked,” said Porter. “We are very similar in beliefs so I believed it would be an easy mesh.”
“We discuss everything, technique, how to handle athletes…
“We make deals,” interrupted Sreckovic, who Porter refers to as Buck, a slang for pal in Serbia.
No doubt, Porter is still in charge of the 7-7 team that plays a rare Thursday night game in Lethbridge tonight against the unbeaten (12-0) Kodiaks. But having someone else who knows the game at an extremely high level can’t hurt, so long as players aren’t getting conflicting messages.
“I went and watched a couple of his practices,” said Porter of his recruiting trip. “I liked what I saw of his practice so I invited him to come because it’s always good to have another pair of eyes. And also from the same generation.
“We are still very old-school kind of guys. Just get it done. I understand you have other issues but you battle through it.”
Make no mistake, Sreckovic wouldn’t be here if not for his son —who had contacted the Rattlers in the first place about wanting to come play here. The side benefit is that he’s got lots of contacts back home, some of which are already turning up future Rattlers.
Though still a bit rough with his English —Sreckovic has only been in town for two weeks — the new assistant already feels quite at home in Medicine Hat. The biggest difference beside the language is the type of ball used in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. It’s lighter than the brand of volleyball commonly used in Europe.
Playing style is also varied from what he’s used to.
“This is very important, defence,” said Sreckovic. “In Serbia, maybe more attack.”
The Rattlers will need to do more of both if they plan to beat Lethbridge, which has won six of seven sets between the teams this season. They’ll rematch Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Snake Pit.
Medicine Hat managed to split Briercrest on the weekend but currently sits out of a playoff spot because they’ve lost the tiebreaker to the Clippers. They’ll need to make up a win somewhere. The hope is it’s this weekend.
As for the Rattlers women, they’re also 7-7 and fifth in their division, and will need to sweep 2-10 Lethbridge to keep their playoff hopes moving in the right direction. Both Ambrose and Red Deer are 8-6, but Ambrose will get to playoffs regardless as the host team. Medicine Hat was swept by the Queens in the first semester and will likely need to get ahead of them in the standings to edge them out for a playoff spot.
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