Soft­baller strikes out long family legacy

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SAMHEWAT

Two years ago, you could have al­most bet your house on Auck­lan­der Joseph Kohlhase play­ing soft­ball for New Zealand.

The family name was strongly as­so­ci­ated with the sport’s his­tory.

Fa­ther Ed­die was one of the most dec­o­rated in the sport, win­ning four world cham­pi­onships with the Black Sox - coach­ing the na­tional side from 2004 to 2013. Un­cle Chris was also a Black Sox mem­ber as was grand­fa­ther Eric who made the team in 1968.

The family legacy was set to con­tinue when Joseph picked up soft­ball at age five, how­ever, the 19-year-old former St Peters Col­lege stu­dent has de­cided to switch codes.

Kohlhase will head to the United States this week to play base­ball for Fort Collins in Colorado. He’ll spend two months there be­fore mov­ing to San Fran­cisco where he’ll play at a ju­nior col­lege - San Ma­teo.

It is an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat given Kohlhase has only started tak­ing base­ball se­ri­ously in the last 12 months. The fact he’s made the tran­si­tion from soft­ball -a sport he played for 14 years - is also im­pres­sive.

‘‘There’s so much of a dif­fer­ence in the game,’’ Kohlhase said.

‘‘I don’t think peo­ple re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate some of the tech­ni­cal stuff. I’ve had to change ev­ery­thing.’’

After head­ing away to the US in 2016 with the Ju­nior Black Sox, he de­cided it was time to call an end to his soft­ball ca­reer, and fo­cus solely on base­ball. A tough de­ci­sion in a Kiwi en­vi­ron­ment where soft­ballers and base­ballers don’t get along with each other.

‘‘There has been some out­side pres­sure to stick with soft­ball, but I’m not too fazed with what other peo­ple think,’’ Kohlhase said.

‘‘My family’s been re­ally sup­port­ive. If I want to do some­thing, they just want me to do it at 100 per cent. What­ever my am­bi­tions are they will sup­port me no mat­ter what sport it is.’’

Ed­die Kohlhase agreed but couldn’t hide his dis­ap­point­ment con­sid­er­ing it brings an end to a family legacy that spans 50 years. De­spite that, he be­lieved Joseph was mak­ing the right choice.

‘‘Not many kids get this op­por- tu­nity, so he’s one of the lucky ones and I was re­ally sup­port­ive,’’ Kohlhase said.

‘‘He’s been brought up an en­vi­ron­ment when peo­ple are talk­ing about sport and per­for­mance all the time. His de­sire for high per­for­mance far ex­ceeds just play­ing on a Satur­day.’’

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