By JULIE ASH
Retired Black Sox coach Don Tricker believes his assistant Eddie Kohlhase could be the man to step into his shoes.
Tricker announced his retirement yesterday, saying he wished to spend more time with his family and focus more on his job at the Government's sport and recreation funding agency Sparc, where he works as an adviser for coaches.
"It is very difficult to move away from this team once you have had exposure to it," Tricker said.
"But I want to spend more time being a dad and a partner to my wife, Carey," Tricker said.
"Our children are aged 9, 6 and 4, and I want to enjoy the experience of watching them grow.
"In addition, I want to apply more energy and focus to my career at Sparc."
A utility player, Tricker played for the national team on and off from 1986 to 1991, before taking over as Black Sox coach in 1998.
He led the team to two world championship wins in 2000 and earlier this year in Christchurch where they claimed their third consecutive title.
"It all comes down to the team with each member believing they could be a world champion and with their determination and commitment to make it happen," Tricker said.
"That is the really cool thing about my role, I have been really lucky in that I have got to know these guys ... and how great they are," he said.
New Zealand Softball chairman Dale Eager describes Tricker as the consummate professional.
He said the Black Sox' success over the past six years could be attributed to Tricker's preparation and planning
"Don has taken the team to a professional level in an amateur sport; professional not in the monetary sense but in terms of approach and attitude," Eager said.
"Like Mike [Walsh] before him Don can now pass on a group of players capable of playing at the highest level with a system built around them that allows them to succeed."
Tricker believes he is leaving the sport in good hands and recognises his assistant Kohlhase, who played for New Zealand between 1982 and 1995, as a possible replacement.
Kohlhase said he was keen to apply for the job but needed to sit down and discuss it with his family.
"I see Eddie in many ways being ahead of his time even when he used to play," Tricker said.
"He sees aspects of the game way before anyone else does. I have got no doubt that under Eddie's guidance the Black Sox would continue to grow in terms of performance and reach new levels of performance, particularly by the time the 2009 world championships roll around."
Although his international career has come to an end Tricker said he "will never be finished with softball".
"It has basically shaped me as a person. I have been coaching kids' teams for a number years and I will continue to do that, and I will continue to provide whatever assistance I can for the Black Sox."