FORT WAYNE — By his own admission, Jason Baker wasn’t all that coachable. But the former Wayne standout and NFL punter remembers every coach that impacted his life on and off the field.
That’s why he implemented a coaches clinic as part of his annual Pro Football Mini-Camp as a way to assist the people who have the most influence on players’ development.
“If we are trying to impact these kids, there is no one who has a more intimate relationship with them on the field than their coaches,” Baker said. “I know from my own experience, I had a lot of great teachers but I don’t remember all their names. I can remember the name of every coach I ever had, and I can tell you all the good and bad things about them.
“There’s plenty of information that would suggest that coaches have a huge impact or potential for impact on young men and women. We want coaches to embrace and recognize how significant of an impact they have on every one of those kids, whether it is the star or the kid at the end of the bench. We want them to be prepared for it and do all the right things for them and be a good example.”
More than 250 youth and high school coaches and school administrators will converge today at Wayne High School to take part in the free clinic, which will include keynote speaker Joe Erhman, a former NFL player who is also a best-selling author and an in-demand motivational speaker.
The clinic also includes coaching sessions from members of the Ball State football coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Joey Lynch, as well as other sessions for coaches to learn how to do their jobs better.
Baker said he has gotten input on what to have in the coaches clinic from a group of area high school football coaches and starts from scratch every year in order to get relevant information that would be useful to coaches.
“I tell people all the time that I was barely coachable, let alone being capable of being a coach. I can’t speak from the perspective of a lot of coaches,” Baker said.
“It is really good for us to get feedback from them and see what kind of things they are dealing with. Every year we back to a blank sheet of paper and see what do we need to do this year.”
Coaches spread the word among their assistants and feeder school coaches about the mini camp.
“The clinic this year could be among the best ever, bringing in the Ball State staff,” Bishop Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said.
“It is another example of how Jason and his organization do things. Everything is first class, and everything is always looking to improve. Every year the clinic and the camp seem to get better.”