Over the years, the team at the Dugout have supported Brad Rona through his unbelievable career including 4 world championship gold medals! Brad took a second to sit down with us to talk about his final tournament as a New Zealand representative and what the future holds, for one of the all time greats in the Softball and sporting world.
The Dugout: How was the tournament in Canada overall? I think you only lost one game right?
Brad Rona: Yeah I think it went great, I mean we had a week before where we were in a tournament in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Things didn’t really go our way you know and we had to do a bit of soul searching after that because that’s the first time I’ve ever been run ruled in the New Zealand colours.
After that tournament, we had about 10 days before the world champs started. We did a bunch of team building stuff and had a lot of meetings etc which obviously brought the team a lot closer and then the World Champs rolled around and everything just seemed to go our way really. It didn’t matter if we were chasing runs or leading the game we always knew that we were gonna come back and had a real confidence in our game plan.
“That’s what pushed me to be in these world champs, because of those words I was like hell no!”
The Dugout: In the final, you guys found yourselves down a few runs heading into the later stages of the game. What was the vibe of the team like at the time?
Brad Rona: We were always pretty focused aye, you know, making the final was always the first goal. The thing about finals is that there always has to be a winner and a loser you know.
We just had a saying in the dugout that no one was allowed past half way in the dugout and everyone had to be focused and focused for the right reasons, even though you might not be on the diamond at the time, everyone has a role. No matter what number you were, we just had to trust our process and keep working and then it obviously paid off for us aye!
But don’t get me wrong mate, there were some nervous times during that game for sure!
The Dugout: After the team won the final, you put your cleats on home plate signalling that it was your last game as a for New Zealand. Did you know before the tournament that this would be your last? Or was it an in the moment decision?
Brad Rona: Yeah mate, I for sure knew it was my last one. I kinda thought that New Zealand didn’t really need me going forward, because I’ve been out of the frame for the last few years since 2015.
But then getting the call up at the last minute, I never thought I was gonna get that phone call you know. I had actually planned holidays and stuff that I had to pull out of so I wasn’t expecting the call at all.
Also for me, I know myself that it’s my last world series this time. In the 2015 world champs I got told that it was going to be my last time in the black jersey. That’s what pushed me to be in these world champs, because of those words I was like hell no! I’m gonna give it a crack for the next 2 years and prove you wrong.
The Dugout: Looking back over your international career, could you pick a highlight?
Brad Rona: There’s been a few aye. Over the years now i’ve got 4 gold medals and 2 silvers, it’s really tough to pick a highlight. The 2013 one was a highlight for me and for the boys getting to win at home in front of your loved ones and the Kiwi softball community. I got the old shoulder charge award in that tournament too!
The Dugout: How do you think the future of the Black Sox are looking?
Brad Rona: Man I think they are in good hands, there are a bunch of young kids coming through around the 22-23 mark that are shaping up to be mean softballers. The Black Sox are going to be fine.
The Dugout: What does the future look like for Brad Rona? Are you still planning to keep playing club softball for Northcote?
Brad Rona: Yep, Yep for sure, I’m going to keep playing for Northcote. I’ve finished at rep level which includes New Zealand and also North Harbour. I’m going to put my energy into coaching now because I want to give back to the game that has given me so much. I’ll take my time, starting with Northcote teams and would love to end up as a rep team coach and then eventually New Zealand teams! You’ll definitely be seeing more of me around.