Kohlhase has plans to keep Black Sox at peak
Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase wants Softball New Zealand to institute an integrated development plan to ensure New Zealand stays at the pinnacle of the international men's game.
Kohlhase guided the Black Sox to their sixth world title in Auckland last weekend. He's prepared to help his beloved sport secure its future even though he is likely to quit as head coach.
Minutes after receiving his gold medal as the first New Zealander to play for and coach a world champion team, Kohlhase talked to his predecessor, Don Tricker, about protecting and extending the Black Sox's legacy.
The two champion coaches would like to see Softball New Zealand integrate the Black Sox programme with the national junior teams and also develop a "futures" system.
The Black Sox will lose catcher Patrick Shannon, outfielder Thomas Makea and first baseman Jarrad Martin from the 2013 champion team but other experienced players including captain Rhys Casley, infielders Nathan Nukunuku and Brad Rona and outfielders Daniel Milne and Donny Hale are likely to stay on, alongside a nucleus of younger, players like Tyson Byrne, Ben Enoka and Tyron Bartorillo.
Pitcher Jeremy Manley - winner of the Kevin Herlihy Memorial Trophy for top pitcher in the grand final - also wants to stay on.
A number of current Black Sox stars are seen as potential coaches after they hang up their gloves, notably Makea, Nukunuku and Martin.
"There's probably a role for guys like Don Tricker and me to assist in the development [of mentoring future Black Sox coaches]," Kohlhase said. "We don't have a coaching pathway in softball. Don and I just spoke about it . . . we've got some ideas about bringing the next crop on."
Kohlhase said his assistant coach, Dave Workman, may want to go on for another world championship and he was not sure what experienced pitching coach Chubb Tangaroa would do.
"It's been good to have him by my side these last 10 days."
But if the other coaches did stay, it would be "nice to get one or two guys alongside, or continuing that process that the Black Sox have been so good at".
Kohlhase was assistant coach to Tricker when the Black Sox won the 2000 and 2004 world titles before taking over as head coach.
He said Martin and Makea were "two very experienced people" and it would be good to "support and surround them with processes and systems".
He and Tricker would like Softball NZ to link "the Black Sox, the under-19s, under-17s and we're thinking of a futures programme to grab the 13 to 15-year-olds."
Kohlhase and Makea coach at under-15 representative level and "know all the kids that are coming through".
Nukunuku, who will be 33 soon, hopes to be available for another one or two world championships. He was the Black Sox infield leader despite being a late replacement for his fourth world championship.
Nukunuku swears the future is bright with an experienced nucleus remaining and some talented young players within and outside the current squad.
"Some stars were born at this tournament", notably "young Tyson Byrne", he said.
As well as Byrne, Enoka, Bartorillo and outfielder Jerome Haretuku - who was cut to make way for Nukunuku - fringe players like outfielder Campbell Makea, shortstop Jerome Raemaki are predicted to step up.
After a silver medal in Saskatoon in 2009 and two shutout losses to Australia, some softball insiders wondered whether the Black Sox needed younger legs in Auckland. But Kohlhase's loyalty to his senior "warriors" was repaid by and large.
- © Fairfax NZ News