Mitch Williams has been at the helm of the Wolves for the past two seasons of Pro-League baseball and will be leading the team again in 2020.
The Wolves finished second in 2018 and Williams believes his side can contend for the title once more this season.
Third Time’s The Charm
“Going into the third year of Pro-League and my third year of coaching the Wolves, the goal this year is to build continuity between our returning players and new players to produce consistent performances throughout the season,” Williams said. “If we are consistent and improving as a team, there is no doubt the Wolves can take that extra step and win the final game on the calendar, after falling just short in the Grand Final in 2018.”
Williams, a former WA State Team representative and beloved figure at Morley Eagles Baseball Club, is looking to build upon the team’s strong foundation and encourage comradery between players with varying levels of experience.
“The Wolves squad this year has a lot of potential, absolutely,” Williams said. “We have assembled a squad where a number of players have the honour of being a part of the WA Future’s Program, and I’m looking forward to these players leading the way as they continue to build their leadership skills and all-round baseball abilities.”
It’s not just the passion from the junior players that will see the Wolves become a formidable force in the Pro-League, with Williams listing his assistant coach Brandon Migro as an important member of the team.
“Migro is entering his second year as part of the Wolves staff. Not only is he a good guy and asset to the team due to his background in teaching, but he is also an avid learner who fits what this program is about,” Williams said. “He is a young coach with a great outlook, having coached State Charter teams and Club Little League. Every day he brings the energy and continues to build respect amongst his peers.”
Williams believes the key to success this season is buying in and accepting the challenges of winter baseball, taking them on with their eyes on the prize. If they approach every skill and game as a team, anything is possible this season.
“The program has an immense amount of opportunity to offer the players, including structured off-field workout programs, specialised practice sessions and ample playing time, with five games scheduled every two weeks,” Williams said. “I have no doubt the Wolves are good enough to perform both on and off the field as a cohesive group and collectively create a positive atmosphere that every squad member wants to be a part of.”
Over the course of the Pro-League competition, Williams hopes his players take away greater love for the game.
“The game is hard. If it was easy everyone would be playing it. Pro-League is all about creating a supportive environment to help the players succeed through developing their tools and skillsets,” Williams said. “By creating a competitive competition and having a support network around these players, we are able to help mould them into becoming open-minded, competitive ballplayers who will experience failure, because the game is full of it, but will continue to work and ultimately taste that success players yearn for.”
Embracing Challenges and Quality Competition
Williams concedes there will be several challenges throughout the program and believes the after-effects of COVID-19 contribute to the importance of getting baseball back up and running in Western Australia.
“Getting back into a competitive environment allows the players to strive to be better,” Williams said. “That’s not saying that they can’t do this at home, but some healthy competition never hurt anybody. Winter baseball can be cold, it can be wet, and it can be miserable, which may affect the mindset and attitudes players bring with them to their individual and collective performance. This is why buying in, accepting the challenge and taking it on, us against everyone else, we are all in it together mindset will be the key to the Wolves this year.”
Williams encourages that mindset in his coaching and he invites players to believe in themselves, trusting their strength and skills to make them a great baseballer now, and for the future.
“My approach to coaching is centred around mindset and trusting your abilities. Everyone is different and it is important to not compare your skillset to others,” Williams said. “Whilst you may not be seen to be ‘as good’ as another player, you are just as valuable when you are on my squad. It is important to endeavour to showcase your strengths, continue to build these strengths and work on other aspects.”
Williams says he is a big believer in being a sponge and absorbing information, as the more his players know, the better. Seeing athletes achieve what they set out to do is one of Williams’ favourite aspects of coaching, as it all comes back to the player’s mindset. Whether individually or as a team, coming together to celebrate those little victories earned by the players is even more rewarding to Williams and his staff.
“It’s knowing that players are up there competing their backsides off each at-bat and each batter they throw to. It’s seeing the reward of getting that knock to get on base or driving a run in for the team; getting that strike out with the catcher or ground ball double play for the team,” Williams said. “That is my favourite thing, seeing the players hard work and competitive natures shine through, and seeing them go through adversity to, in the end, deliver for the team.”
Strong Pro-League Support
Williams is thankful to his coaching staff that includes Assistant Coach Migro, Pitching Coach Arnie Noel and Strength and Conditioning Coach Josh Kennelly for sticking with him each season. Each staff member with the Wolves shares the team’s achievements and feels proud of the efforts by the players.
“The staff involved in this program stick out to me over the past two seasons,” Williams said. “We’ve had to juggle training and playing venues, create sessions on the fly and faced other challenges along the way, but it’s knowing that we have had each other’s back the first two seasons that sticks in my mind. Without the likes of these guys having fun and doing their bit every week, every session, there wouldn’t be as much energy as there is about the program.”
The value Williams places on the coaching staff is a reflection on how much he looked up to his own coaches and mentors. Williams divulges that there is simply not enough time to truly list each person who’s played a part in his life, unto this point.
“I don’t think you get into coaching what you are passionate about because of one person,” Williams said. “My inspiration to coach has come from all those who have helped me along my journey of playing and continue to help me through my coaching endeavours. It’s the people that have guided me in building my blueprint of the game.”
Pro-League Spring Training is set to start on 21 July, with games beginning a few weeks later on 4 August, and the Wolves slated to open their campaign against the Ravens. Looking ahead to the next few weeks, Williams reflects on a quote from the late, great US basketballer Kobe Bryant. The words ring true to him and his philosophy, which he has on his wall poster and desktop screensaver and shares with others: “It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you – or don’t. So don’t take it lightly.”