This article is part of a series highlighting different organizations within NVTBL. Click here to read past feature articles. We will be posting new articles each week.
Establishing a positive environment where players want to show up for practice with their teammates and coaches and put in the extra work when no one is watching is the goal each season for Win Within’s director Nick Sussman.
By measuring success not based on the number of wins, but the level of organic excitement and personal development within the organization, has allowed Sussman and the Win Within coaching staff the capability to create the culture they want and use the game of baseball to teach lessons beyond the baseball diamond.
“We are coaching our players to be prepared for a higher level baseball, but more importantly being prepared to be leaders in their community, leaders on the field and just better citizens overall,” Sussman said. “It’s important to us that they are learning about accountability, hard work and learning how to deal with failure. Life is challenging and there is a ton of failure. I think that’s why baseball is the best life teacher.”
The Win Within organization is based out of Washington D.C. and have teams for 10-14u players. Sussman took over the directing role six years ago after coaching in the program since 2011 and has seen Win Within teams of all different talent levels. Regardless of the success on the field, Sussman measures his program’s worth on their ability to facilitate a contagious atmosphere where kids want to return each season and continue the process.
“I don’t know if there is a better indicator for success than kids wanting to put the uniform back on the following season.”
One of the keys to creating that environment is hiring coaches the players want to be around and who share the same vision for the program. All of the coaches are former collegiate players who have vast experience and knowledge of the game and can take the best from prior coaches and teams and bring in to the program.
Win Within coaches are able to provide a different style of coaching by understanding that players will have more important games and encounter more drastic situations later in life. Preparing players for those situations is what the program is all about.
“We value the person more than the player,” Sussman said. “We know that all of our players who put on our uniform, their most important baseball is not going to be played with us. We are very comfortable with that. I think that gives us the opportunity to coach the kids different things.”
At the younger ages, the focus is on long-term player development and working towards the goal of playing competitive games once the kids get to the big field. Each coach typically remains with the same team year after year and with little player turnover, teams are able to truly create a family environment on the field. The continuity from season to season also allows the program to reach their goal for the older teams.
“We know if we stay the course with building the environment we want and have kids who will support each other, we are going to have a pretty good baseball program and we are going to win more later,” Sussman said.
Sussman also strives to continue the learning outside of the scheduled practice times by encouraging players to do the little things on their own. The program provides players an off-season throwing program as well countless tips on how to improve their game over the summer. Sussman has even altered the content on the program’s Instagram page to mirror the drills and nuances of the game taught in practice.
Off-season work is never mandatory, but is heavily encouraged for players wanting to improve their game. By fostering a work ethic within players, Sussman believes success will come naturally.
“It’s important for players to understand that they can get better without spending a nickel. We are looking to find ways to encourage and engage our kids in their own personal development as players,” Sussman said. “Confidence is gained when you feel you are more prepared than your opponent and the only way you can do that is if you are putting in the time on your own.”
Sussman prefers the program’s name represents the motto for their teams and players rather than an intimidating animal or a natural phenomenon. Win Within has stayed true to their name and will continue to teach that winning on the diamond, as well as in life, comes from within.
For more information on the Win Within organization, visit winwithinbaseball.com.