Budding softball players lined up yesterday to meet their New Zealand softball heroes.
Players from New Zealand's Black Sox softball team visited Clifton Terrace School in Atawhai, and signed autographs, played ball and gave tips to dozens of excited pupils.
They even learnt a thing or two from their young fans who taught them some new moves, assuming the gorilla position - bent knees and feet wide apart - and used crocodile hands to safely catch and throw the ball.
Yesterday's visit was the start of a national tour by the team to schools, participating in coaching sessions. They visited other Nelson schools including Waimea College, Nelson College, Nelson Intermediate, Broadgreen Intermediate and Victory Primary.
Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase said the tour was important for players to reconnect in preparation for March's World Championship.
It was also important to renew contacts with the provinces and encourage more young players at schools, Kohlhase said. "For most of these guys this is where it started. At school in Dunedin, Hawke's Bay, Upper Hutt . . . and getting these guys together again is part of the preparation."
Clifton Terrace School principal Rob Wemyss said it was fantastic to have the players visit and encourage the pupils, many of whom played either T-ball or softball. The Black Sox, ranked No 2 in the world after relinquishing their crown to Australia at the 2009 tournament, also played an exhibition match against the USI team yesterday.