The first stage of the Great Britain Under-19 and Under-16 National Team tryouts took place last month and catcher Jake Caress had not one but several reasons to be pleased when the GB Team announcement was made. It confirmed that he is through to the next phase of the GB U19 Team selection process. Among the 13 Herts teammates who made it through was also his brother Brodie Caress.
However, it was the news that 12-year-old Ben Jones has made it through to the second round of the GB U16 team tryouts which had an unusual angle. 17-year-old Jake Caress is also the manager of the Herts Cardinals who compete in the British U14 league and Ben Jones plays under Caress for the Herts Cardinals. We had a chance to speak with Jake Caress to get a better idea about his experience at the GB Team tryouts wearing both his player cap and his managerial cap at the same time.
Q: You have experience with GB tryouts and know Ben as his team manager with the Herts Cardinals. Did you think that he will manage to go through to the second stage of the GB U16 tryouts?
Jake Caress: After seeing Ben play and train both at Herts and at the national academy I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be able to progress further.
Q: Which news gave you more pleasure, you progressing in the GB 19 selection process or Ben Jones doing the same in the GB U16 Team?
Jake Caress: This is a hard one because although it was a great pleasure for myself being selected for the U19 GB Team it also brings great joy that I am a manager of a potential national player.
Q: Did you have a chance to give Ben any words of encouragement during his tryout or did it take place at the same time with your tryout with the GB U19 team which meant that you couldn’t talk with him?
Jake Caress: During the session breaks there was chance for me to give him some words of encouragement but majority of the tryouts were run simultaneously.
Q: Ben Jones is competing for a GB spot against players who are 2 or 3 years older than him. Do you think he can make the GB U16 final squad?
Jake Caress: I believe from watching Ben play he does have the skill to make the team but if he is competing against players who are 2 or 3 years older I think they might have the edge in areas such as strength.
Q: Do you have any advice for Ben as he prepares for the second round of the GB U16 selection process?
Jake Caress: Focus, train hard and just try to relax while playing. Oh and another thing; Hustle, whenever you can just hustle.
Q: Millions of British boys and girls have been inspired by the 2012 London Olympics and want to represent their country. Would you recommend that they give baseball a try, and, if so, why?
Jake Caress: I would always recommend that you give baseball or softball a go as it’s a fun and enjoyable sport that can be played almost anywhere. By joining clubs and learning the basics soon you can pick up the skills and begin to master the sport looking at progressing to higher levels.
Q: This is the highest number of Herts players to reach the second phase of the GB U19 and U16 tryouts. Obviously, it is unlikely that all Herts players will secure a place in the final squads, but is there a belief that with hard work anything is possible and players from this fantastic Herts baseball generation can earn a place in the GB Senior Team in the coming years?
Jake Caress: I believe with dedication the Herts players of this generation could have a great potential to play in the senior team in tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic. We like to talk a lot about ‘intent’ at practices so if you have the intent to play at a higher national level then I really feel strongly that they could.