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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 29, 2016 5:52 pm

Coaching expert to speak at clinic

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

Jason Baker is methodical when vetting potential speakers for the coaches clinic at his Pro Football Mini Camp.

"Every year I make phone calls and I say, ‘My goal is to change not only the things our coaches coach but who they are as examples to our kids and who out there in that space is doing good?" Baker said.

This year, that query led Baker, a Wayne graduate and former NFL punter, to find author Jeff Duke.

Duke is a lecturer at the University of Central Florida, a former assistant to legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and author of the "3Dimensional Pyramid of Coaching Success" theorem.

Duke will speak to the attendees and distribute copies of his book during the clinic.

The clinic is free, so Baker encourages all area youth and high school coaches to come to the event, which starts at 5:30 p.m. today at Wayne. He said it’s all about exposing coaches to new tools they can use to positively influence the athletes.

Baker touts Duke as a national "expert on coaching beyond instilling the skills and strategies of the game."

Also scheduled to appear at this year’s clinic are five members of the Notre Dame coaching staff: linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, special assistant to the head coach Bob Elliott, assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Quinn, director of player development Ron Powlus and defensive graduate assistant Harlan Bower. They are set to give presentations at the clinic.

Baker, who last played in 2011 for Carolina, said the Irish staffers would focus their presentations on fundamentals.

Baker’s guest speaker at last year’s clinic was Tony Porter, co-founder of a nonprofit that works to curb domestic violence and an international lecturer for the U.S. State Department.

Baker, who has been involved in these types of camps or ways of giving back to his native Fort Wayne for more than a decade, would like to see today’s attendance be even greater than for last year’s coaches clinic, which had around 250 attendees.

"If you’re a coach in the area or a football coach or an athletic director or somebody responsible for hiring and firing coaches, why aren’t you (coming)?" Baker said. "We don’t charge for it. Come in."

Note: Baker is unveiling at the clinic a player safety initiative for northeast Indiana. The plans include a USA Football Player Safety Clinic in June for youth and high school football programs in the region. … Baker’s annual mini camp for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders is scheduled for May 14-15, also at Wayne.