"Keep your mind cool, breathe. Take it easy. This may be the last time you're here, so enjoy it."
That was the advice Irena Vecerka, of Brno, Czech Republic, wished for her son, Viktor Vecerka, 13, outfielder/pitcher, just before Friday's Little League Baseball World Series Europe-Africa and Japan game.
Europe-Africa lost that game, and Saturday's, which eliminates it from the championship game.
It's the first time the Czech Republic has made it to the World Series, and the players' parents couldn't be more proud. It was worth the years of practice, the hard work and definitely the 10 hours to fly here, Vecerka said.
The other Brno parent who traveled here, Dagmar Kuba, said words could not express what it meant for her to see her son, Tomas Kuba, 13, outfielder/pitcher, make it here.
Tears filled her eyes as Dagmar Kuba said, "I have no words. It's a great experience."
Vecerka's other son, Boris, and Kuba's other son, Michal, were there to support their brothers. Both boys are hoping to play at the World Series in a few years when they're old enough.
"I hope after one year," Michal Kuba exclaimed.
Both Viktor Vecerka and Tomas Kuba have played baseball since they were 7. Leading up to the World Series, practiced at least four times a week. Over the summer, the boys played a game every weekend.
"They work very hard. They wanted to win the tournament very much," Irena Vecerka said.
In Vecerka's opinion, she doesn't see their time spent and hard work as sacrifices.
"Nothing (was) sacrificed.This is a great experience," Vercerka said.
Once they got to Volunteer and Lamade stadiums, they were surprised to see how big the playing fields are, and they were impressed with everyone's friendliness. The countryside and weather weren't big adjustments, as they said it's very similar to their hometown.
At the World of Little League Museum, Exe-cutive Director Lance Van Auken showed a piece of the torn-down Berlin Wall. Once that wall was torn down in 1990, it allowed countries such as the Czech Republic to play in the Little League Baseball World Series, he said.
Baseball is becoming more popular in the Czech Republic, Dagmar Kuba said, depending on the area of the country. Soccer and hockey still are more popular, she said.
More boys than girls play baseball in the Czech Republic, Dagmar Kuba said. This year, one girl, Eliska Stejskalova, 12, made it to the World Series on the team.
Carol Weinhoffer, 66, of South Williamsport, volunteers as a host/night chaperone for Stejskalova in the Grove. She's been a World Series host since 2002, and the last time she hosted a girl was 2009.
Weinhoffer described Stejskalova as "very quiet" and noted the player has a twin brother.
Two of the three Czech Republic coaches have sons on the team. Coach Rene Jurcik's son Tomas Jurcik, and coach Pavel Chadim's son Tomas Chadim made it to the World Series, Weinhoffer said.