Baker awarded Walsh Fellowship with the NFL's Seahawks
July 10, 2012
University of Montana receivers coach Shalon Baker is taking a position with the Seattle Seahawks, but don't fret Griz fans he will be back in maroon for the 2012 season. Baker has been chosen for a two-week Bill Walsh National Football League Minority Coaching Fellowship.
The program, which was named after the man who conceived the idea - late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh - exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer NFL training camps. Walsh introduced the concept in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches into his San Francisco 49ers' training camp. The program has mentored more than 1,500 minority coaches through the years.
Dozens of graduates of the program are among the ranks of NFL coaches, including four current head coaches, Lovie Smith-Chicago, Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati, Raheem Morris-Tampa Bay and Mike Tomlin-Pittsburgh.
"It gives the NFL guys a chance to meet and mentor some young guys that are eager to move up the coaching chain," Baker said. "It's where a lot of coaches got their start. It's a great opportunity; I'm looking forward to it."
Baker received the opportunity with help from friend and former B.C. Lion teammate Maurice Kelly, the Seahawks' Senior Director of Player Development.
"I played with Mo Kelly in the Canadian Football League," Baker said. "A few years ago we found each other on Facebook and started talking about doing something. We wanted to do this last season but the lockout prevented that from happening. Luckily he called me again this year to see if I was still interested."
Baker, who will be with the Seahawks during training camp, will also get the opportunity to learn more than what happens on the field.
"I will be able to go three days early and sit in on some meetings and get a sense of the business side of things," Baker said. "I am interested in learning as much as possible about everything that goes into an NFL team. It would be fun to part of the business side of football if I get that opportunity in the future.
When it comes to training camp Baker will try to gather as much information as possible but he also will look to add his two cents.
"When you are a young coach you are trying to figure things out, it is great to have perspective from veteran coaches," Baker said. "But it goes both ways, sometimes when you have been coaching a while you need to get some fresh ideas and energy. I feel like there will be some give and take that will be good for the Seahawks and for us."
The biggest thing for Baker will be how he can use what he learns to improve the players he coaches. With a young corps of receivers in the stable for the Griz this season Baker wants his players to get up to speed faster and ready to play.
"I want to learn as much about coaching the position as I can; how to get my guys to learn quickly, to play better, to play with better consistency and improve their technique. I want them to get better faster," Baker said.
Baker will also have the opportunity to be on the same field as former Griz Donny Lisowski who signed a three-year free agent deal with the Seahawks. Lisowski contacted Baker as soon as he heard the news of his internship.
"He (Lisowski) is excited to have someone familiar around," Baker said. "I want to go out there and watch him perform, but on the other hand he will be competing against the receivers so I am going to try to beat him."
More than anything Baker is excited to have the opportunity to work with coaches at the highest level of football and to have the opportunity learn and get better as a coach.
"I am extremely excited," Baker said "Anytime you have the opportunity to work in the NFL you have to be excited about that. The NFL is basically the Holy Grail of football, and even though it's just an internship just to have a foot in the door it is pretty exciting."
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