Retired Hawke's Bay Black Sox softball legend Thomas Makea has been appointed Junior Black Sox coach for next year's Junior World Series in Whitehorse, Canada.
He's hoping to enlist the aid of some world champion mates to help groom the next generation for their challenge.
Makea, 38, has won four world titles with the New Zealand men's team, the most recent of those last month in Auckland, and has since retired from international play. But as his playing career wound down, he was already planning his next step - guiding the under-19 team to their world tournament. He was subsequently interviewed for the role and confirmed this week.
"My motivation is to help these young guys coming through to win the world junior title and get them ready for the next level," Makea said. "I've been there for the past 20 years, so I know the ins and outs."
Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase has described Makea as one of New Zealand's greatest players and Makea is confident of securing the services of several of his former New Zealand teammates to assist him with the youngsters.
"I think I can get a lot of support from the Black Sox," Makea said. "I'm sure some of the older, retiring guys would help out at training camps or as hitting coaches ... whatever we need.
"But there are also some young guys in the team, who are the same generation as these juniors and don't come from the 'old school', that we can tap into."
The Wellington-based Makea has coached Wellington age group and junior teams to national titles. He has also coached Porirua City United and Poneke Kilbirnie premier club sides.
"I've been coaching for a few years now, under the radar, and I've seen some good young players coming through the grades.
"We've always had the talent, even back in my era. In 1993, we were a couple of outs away from winning the world title," Makea said as he reflected on his playing stint at a Junior World Series.
"But they need a lot more hard work on the mental side of the game ... understanding the game."
And that's where Makea sees his Black Sox mates chipping in.
"We're very lucky to have great players like Thomas wanting to help our young players achieve their potential," Softball New Zealand general manager Dane Dougan said.