A former HU baseball player has returned to the university to coach for the season full-time.
By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer
Forester baseball recently hired former outfielder Donovan Clark as their new strength and conditioning coach. Clark played two seasons for the Foresters in the 2018 and 2019 seasons and transferred from Purdue University Fort Wayne and Indiana University.
Since Clark’s graduation, he has worked in the marketing field and with athletes in the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis area. He worked briefly with the Forester’s baseball program in the Fall of 2019 before joining the team full-time this season.
Coach Thad Frame had the idea to talk to Clark about the position, and it wasn’t until a conversation with his mother that convinced him to consider.
“I was like okay, this is what I need to be doing,” Clark said, “I decided to call Thad back to see if the position was available.”
There couldn’t be anyone happier than the baseball players about the hire, as the freshman from the 2018 high school class is now seniors who played with Clark. Those players trust him, as they witnessed a program leader that led them to a regular-season conference championship and broke his own school record for stolen bases with 32.
One of those players is senior pitcher Joey Butz, who is constantly working on his craft.
“I was really excited just because it was Donovan,” Butz said, “especially with him as a young coach and getting to play with him. He’s easy to relate to. He’s very open.”
Butz uses a program called PRP (Passion Resilience Process), a data-driven organization for baseball-specific weight training to throw faster, smarter, and to prevent injury. PRP is a day-to-day program, and Clark reached out to Butz in the summer to understand more about what they do and even visited the facility.
“One thing I really appreciate about him is how he’s always learning, especially with stuff he hasn’t had much experience with, like the pitching side of training,” Butz said.
Thad Frame talked to head coach Mike Frame about who to hire as their strength and conditioning coach. It wasn’t long before Thad Frame mentioned Clark in the conversation, and Mike Frame was on board from the start, knowing that the program would embrace him quickly.
“Our guys really love him,” Mike Frame said, “his workouts are challenging, but I think they leave going, ‘okay, I think I’m getting better. I think I’m doing the things that I need to do to play baseball at a high level.”
Those workouts are a combination of what Clark has learned over the years at different programs and even other sports. At Indiana University, Clark was a 3-star recruit from Fort Wayne to play football as a defensive back. From football to baseball, Clark understands that the workout routine is different and constantly tries new things that work.
“I’m thinking, ‘where is this going to translate onto the field?’” Clark said, “and if I can’t see that or explain that to a player, then I really don’t feel comfortable having them do that workout.”
Getting faster and stronger is the main part of the job description at any school. However, Clark said that his #1 priority is to make sure that the team stays injury-free and healthy throughout the year. He stated that injuries had hurt his team’s chances of winning in the past, and getting his team to “buy-in” to the process is key to that.
“It’s way easier for an athlete to come in and not question why am I doing this jump?” Clark said, “why am I doing this movement? When they understand exactly what it comes from.”
Forester baseball players this fall are working out with Clark early in the morning, getting up three times a week at 6:00 am. Most of the players are on board with the scheduled time and are willing to get their work done early. The team is excited to keep improving and getting better for when the spring season begins.
Do you want to learn more about Donovan? Check out his workouts on social media: