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20 Questions: Westside Baseball Head Coach Otis Seals

What is your team outlook for 2024?
We will be a little younger than we have been in the past few years. We have some really good returning seniors who we will be looking to for leadership. We’re coming off a great summer legion season where a lot of our younger guys grew a lot.

Players to watch in 2024?
Nick Anglim
Nikola French
Jay Coughlin
Jack Schulz
Charlie Henningsen
Harry Yeager
Burke Brown

How long have you been coaching high school baseball?
15 years

What inspired you to become a high school baseball coach?
My high school coaches in my career. Bob Greco specifically.

What is your coaching philosophy when it comes to developing high school baseball players?
Sports are a vehicle to teach our student athletes about life. They offer a unique opportunity to pass on knowledge and skills that the athletes take on with them into whatever they do with their lives. Very few till play beyond high school, and even less beyond college, so any opportunity we have to help them succeed makes it all worthwhile. We’re lucky to have a lot of alumni come back and visit and nothing makes you feel better about what you do than seeing those guys go on to be great men.

Can you share some key principles you instill in your players regarding sportsmanship?
One thing we have really tried to focus on is controlling what you can control. Makes no sense to yell at other teams or officials, it won’t change anything. And that last part starts with coaches modeling that behavior. We don’t want our coaches berating umpires or being a bad sport. The kids respond to that modeling.

What is your approach to balancing academics and athletics for your players?
Westside is a unique place with our modular scheduling system. This gives the kids a chance to work on their school work, see teachers, make up assignments during their open times during the day. In addition to that, coaches do grade checks with our guys once per week and hold them accountable on a case-by-case basis.

How do you address the varying skill levels and experience within the team?
We have 3 levels, and sometimes, that is the best way. We work with the NSAA out of season guidelines to hold workouts with prospective baseball players in the fall and winter to address the skills and experiences.

Can you describe your strategy for preparing the team for important games or tournaments?
We try to start those things really early. We work on leadership meetings and different strategies for breathing, calmness, and grounding. It helps when we have all those things becuase we can always fall back on them. It helps us to slow the game down.

How do you encourage players to set and work towards both individual and team goals?
We meet with our guys to establish both of those things. We meet one-on-one and help them to reach their own personal goals, and we meet as a team to establish team goals. We also meet once per week to assess where we are with those goals.

What emphasis do you place on mental preparation?
A lot. I think that in a sport like Baseball, the mental preparation is paramount.

What role do statistics and analytics play in your coaching decisions?
We do our best to balance both feel and analytics. The analytics is a little harder in high school baseball just because you don’t have the same resources and opportunity that college and pro have. But, we keep charts and stats on all of our opponents from year to year. Those help us to position players and make decision on how to pitch guys or how to hit against certain teams.

How do you manage playing time and ensure fair opportunities for all team members?
This starts in practice. We have multiple team levels, and I am clear with the lower levels that I don’t care about their records, we need to focus on developing all of our players. On the varsity level, playing time in earned in practice. That will get you more opportunities in games, and then it’s up to the players to make the most of those opportunities.

What role do leadership and captaincy play within your team, and how are leaders selected?
We really try to start developing leadership from when they are freshmen. We meet with our kids consistently and talk about leadership qualities. I have seen that our players who attend those meetings regularly usually develop into pretty good leaders by the time they are seniors.

What resources or facilities are available to the baseball team for practice and games?
We have one of the best fields in the state. Our indoor facilities need some improvement. Fortunately, Westside has began that process with our new life complex that they will start construction on this spring.

What qualities do you look for in assistant coaches to ensure a cohesive coaching staff?
We want assistant coaches with initiative and skills to help the teams. I am certainly not a perfect coach, far from it, and so I need some assistants who are going to make up for areas in which I know that I am not as good at. I want our coaches to feel comfortable challenging me and our processes so we constantly improve, but they need to know the right time and place to do that.

What advice do you give to players aspiring to pursue baseball beyond high school?
Advocate for yourself. It’s been tough since COVID and I don’t think its fair to try and sugarcoat it. With college kids getting that extra year, even JUCOs are stocked with guys. These kids who want to play college ball have to work that much harder to earn a spot.

What services do you utilize to help players that want to pursue baseball beyond high school?
Our teams are on Field Level. We are also trying to advocate on social media for our guys. And there will always be a place for good old-fashioned personal networking.

How do you engage with parents to ensure a collaborative and supportive environment for the team?
We have a parent club that helps to organize team dinners, team outings, senior banners, seniors nights, etc. I try to work closely with them for the benefit of our guys.

What else should we know about your baseball program?
The baseball community in Omaha is top-notch. I want to take this opportunity to shout out all the coaches in this community. Always willing to support one another and support programs in need.


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