Softball Club (“SK”) Hrvatski Dragovoljac is founded on December 15, 1996 as a sports organization of the Union of Croatian Volunteers of the Homeland War, at the initiative of relatives who are members of the Union. The main goal was to gather children to participate in sports activities and also to further develop the sport of softball in the Republic of Croatia. The team which spearheaded this initiative included Messrs. Knezek, Zimet, Trut and Pavlovic.



The first season in which the club started play was in 1997. The coach of the new team was Maurice Marnika, a Canadian of Croatian background. In the Croatian league the team finished in the seventh and final spot . It achieved an important victory against Medvednica and managed to finish in third place for the Croatia Cup tournament. This was a good result owing to the new beginning and lack of  experienced players. All of the games were played at the Dugave field behind the “Octagon”.The players that were part of the Dragovoljac team that season included:

Wery first team members 

Petra Abramović, Sandra Barbir, Dunja Bonacci, Adela Čujko, Iva Đaković, Edina Fajković, Željka Grubor, Tajana Habun, Lea  Juraić, Ivana Jurković, Anica Knezek, Ivana Kovač, Biserka Krezo, Latica Krznarić, Zrinka Kvakan, Andreja Levačić, Mateja Leščan, Petra Panić, Matea Panić, Ivana Pemper, Maja Šimrak, Mira Šimrak, Maja Trut.
During the Croatia Cup games and the tournaments organized by Princ and Vindija, Pamela Taluto and Maja Belamaric from the United States also played with Dragovoljac.

At the beginning of the season the team shifted its diamond to the playing field behind St. Matthew's Church in Dugave. That year the team finished in fifth place in the Croatian league and in second place in the Croatia Cup. This provided the team with a berth in the European Cup the following season.
As Princ Dugave won the Croatian league in 1997 as well as the Croatia Cup, Dragovoljac's third place finish in 1997 provided the opportunity to play in the 1998 European 

First field in Dugave

Winners Cup in Almere, Netherlands (http://www.almere90.nl), which was the first chance for the team to taste international competition. 
As Coach Marnika returned to Canada following the 1997 season, coaches Branko Hudin and Ivica Horvat led the squad through the 1998 season.
Although the coaches and the players were not fully seasoned, they gained a tremendous amount of experience through the international matches.
The team in Almere consisted of:
Petra Abramović, Adela Čujko, Iva Đaković, Željka Grubor, Tajana Habun, Lea Juraić, Jelena Kolimbatović, Ivana Kovač, Andreja Levačić, Maja Mijatović, Matea Panić, Ivana Pemper, Maja Šimrak, Mira Šimrak i Maja Trut.


At the beginning of the 1999 season, a new coach took over SK Hrvatski Dragovoljac. His name was Jason Lipskomb, and he was a young American with both a playing and coaching background.
The team participated in the Cup of Cups in Prague, Czech Republic from September 13-20, 1999 at the diamonds of «Sokol KRC» Baseball and Softball Club (http://www.softball.cz). The team won its first international game against the Bristol Blaze from Great Britain. With the help of Dutch player Johanna Smit, Dragovoljac won by a 

Johanna at bat

score of 6:5. Johanna was also named the best hitter and best pitcher in that tournament. The team finished in seventh place out of nine teams, and with a little bit of luck could have placed even higher – as all of the results were quite close.
Owing to university and high school obligations it was difficult to assemble a full squad for practices and games that year.The players that went to the Czech Republic included:
Petra Abramović, Željka Grubor, Tajana Habun, Lejla Husedµinović, Lea Juraić, Ivana Kovač, Andreja Levačić, Matea Panić, Ivana Pemper, Johanna Smit i Maja Trut.


In the year 2000 3 new players joined Dragovoljac: Kristina Uroic, the best catcher in Croatia, Branka Bilandzija, the best pitcher in Croatia and Ana-Marija Tomic, an outfielder. The addition of these players had a positive impact on the team and on the respective game results. Dragovoljac finished second in the Croatian league; second in the Interliga; and  in a tough series against Princ the team finished first in the Croatia Cup.
In the toughest but most successful year since the founding of the club the following players were part of Dragovoljac: Branka Bilandžija, Lejla Husedžµinović, Ivana Jurković, Ivana Kovač, Matea Panić, Ivana Pemper, Tena Rajković Wilhelm, Ana Marija Tomić, Maja Trut i Kristina Uroić.

This season also saw an attempt made at forming a men’s softball team.
In the spring of 2000, a number of players from Maksimir and Gorica took part including:Zvono, Uva, Ratko, Joža, Malacko, Kosta, Žbulj, Marac, Kum, Kuki, Aljoša, Dugi, Cena, Vučko and Silvio.
The guys worked hard at practice each time out and saw this as a good opportunity to get in some exercise and to also socialize. After awhile the team became quite good but did not have any real opposition to play against. They played a number of inter-squad exhibition games for a few months but this was pretty much it. A number of the players opted to play baseball the following year.


In 2001 the players that were originally with the team stopped playing with Dragovoljac. In addition, Matea Panic transferred to Princ. In the interim, Dragovoljac was able to acquire excellent players in Zeljana Colovic from Nada Split and Fedra Grenjo from Olimpija Karlovac. The coaching staff was strengthened with the arrival of Hrvoje Knezek. The team's Executive Committee transferred team headquarters to a new location and the club's diamond was shifted to Srednjaci at the Faculty of Physical Education. During this season the team finished in second place in the Croatian league, and in the final spot in the Croatia Cup.

Opening ceremony in Ronchi dei Leghionari

In September 2001 the team participated in the European Cup Winners Cup in Ronchi dei Leghionari, Italy (http://www.web.tiscali.it/peanuts).
Injuries and school obligations forced the team to take on some additional players for the Cup. Marijana Prodan and Maja Taseva from Nada joined the squad as did Mojca Smode from Medvednica. Dragovoljac finished in sixth place in the Cup and would have likely finished higher if the Dutch players Johanna Smit and Eveline de Rover were allowed to play for the team.
In addition to the above-mentioned players, the team that went to Ronchi also consisted of the following players:
Željana Colović, Fedra Grenjo, Lejla Husedžinović, Lea Juraić, Ivana Jurković, Maja Trut i Kristina Uroić.



At the beginning of the season the team had 10 rookie players who it was hoped would form the new nucleus of Dragovoljac. Unfortunately, only one player remained. The team was able to attract some interest from children living near the diamond and held a number of “softball training sessions” to introduce them to the sport. In spite of great efforts the team did not have many successes this season. Dragovoljac finished in 3rd place in all Croatian competitions and could not assemble a complete squad for the Inter-League finals.The team did have one notable success when it beat Princ by a score of 4-3 at the beginning of the season.

Winners vs. Princ

In the tough year the following players were part of Dragovoljac:Branka Bilandžija, Fedra Grenjo, Lejla Husedžinović, Lea Juraić, Željana Colović, Ivana Jurković, Danijela Petrušić, Petra Juraja, Maja Matković, Ivana Pemper, Maja Trut i Kristina Uroic.


2003.         Under construction