Former NFL punter and Wayne High School graduate Jason Baker has discontinued his Pro Football Mini Camp.
According to a news release from Baker’s local partner Edmond O’Neal, the coach’s clinic affiliated with the mini camp will also be discontinued.
For 10 years, the camp taught kids in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade skills and lessons about football and character development through drills, speakers, and workshops.
That specific effort has now ended, but Baker said he has a new focus that he hopes will create systematic, sustainable change in Allen County football programs through a new initiative that will be formally announced soon.
Baker released the following statement to explain his reasoning:
“We have an unbelievable number of consistent, reliable supporters and we’ve been doing this for a really long time. In the beginning, we set out to create a sustainable public resource. That focus hasn’t changed. We have been successful in educating ourselves and the community about the issues surrounding our game and its impact on the community, as well as providing opportunities for our youth to engage in real servant leadership. But it’s time to shift the focus away from hosting events that create awareness and instead be catalysts for systemic and sustainable change. Kids don’t need another camp. The coaches don’t need another clinic. There are plenty of options for camps and coaching clinics these days. We can provide leadership in the new initiative and we believe that’s more valuable.”
Baker and O’Neal said they have begun the process of building a team to help lead the initiative. According to the news release, the conversation began more than a year ago.
They said they remain focused on player safety and development, professional development for coaches, and healthy interaction between coaches and parents.
The mini camp, which became a spring staple at Wayne High School, was unique because it required attendees to complete a servant leadership project to earn admission to the camp. That’s an ideal that both O’Neal and Baker hope to continue in their new initiative.
Baker said he is happy with the accomplishments of both the camp and clinic, but it’s time to move on to make a bigger impact that will outlast his involvement.
“The truth is, the game of football is contracting. The roots of the game are dying. The long-term products of this game are too valuable to the individuals who are involved and the communities they live in. Change is needed,” Baker said. “We’ll continue to gather the key influencers and work toward an ideal. What should football look like if it’s done right? What should the experience be for the players, the parents, the coaches? What’s the difference between that and what we currently have? We’re going to facilitate that dialogue and push for the necessary change.”