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Leber to headline speakers at SD Coaches Clinic in Mitchell

The schedule is shaping up for the South Dakota Coaches Clinic, which will be held in Mitchell for the first time next month and will feature former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber as the keynote speaker.

The event, which is put on by the South Dakota High School Coaches Association and the South Dakota High School Activities Association, will run July 11-13 at locations across Mitchell.

SDHSCA president-elect and Mitchell High School wrestling coach Travis Carpenter has been helping get things in order for the three-day convention, which could draw as many as 400 coaches. He said organizers are hoping Mitchell will be the right spot for the event, with the hopes to draw more coaches to the free clinics.

"We're in a central location and we want it to be something that coaches can get to and can make use of," Carpenter said. "We've got a great three days lined up. Hopefully, we have a bunch of coaches in town and we can fill up the hotel rooms and have it be a great event."

Leber, who graduated from Vermillion High School and played 10 years in the NFL for San Diego, Minnesota and St. Louis, will deliver the keynote at 9:45 a.m. July 13, on the final day at the Mitchell Technical Institute campus. He was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Instructional events will be held in each of the state's SDHSAA-sanctioned sports, which includes wrestling, football, volleyball, basketball, track and field, soccer, gymnastics, cheer and dance, tennis and golf. The event will also include a golf tournament on July 11, which will be played at Wild Oak Golf Course and the SDHSCA will host its hall of fame and awards banquet on July 12 at the Highland Conference Center, beginning at 6 p.m.

Sport clinicians include University of Sioux Falls volleyball coach Andrea McCartney, South Dakota Golf Association Executive Director Wade Merry, DWU head coaches Ross Cimpl (football), Matt Wilber (men's basketball), Jason Christensen (women's basketball) and Chris Gomez (golf).

The event, now in its 65th year, was previously held in Aberdeen, but diminishing interest led the SDHSCA to drop its support for the corresponding all-star games and look for a new site for the clinics, leading Mitchell to step up.

Facilities all around the city will be used, including meeting space at MTI, gyms at Mitchell High School, practice fields at Dakota Wesleyan University, Lakeview Golf Course, the Hitchcock Park tennis courts and the MEGA gymnastics facility.

Carpenter, as a wrestling coach, is especially excited about the wrestling clinicians for the event, which will include South Dakota State University head coach Chris Bono and assistant coach Jon Reader, who wrestled to make the U.S. Olympic team earlier this year.

"Those are some world-class wrestlers and I can't wait to have our high school coaches here to listen to them and work with them on a one-on-one level," Carpenter said. "Hopefully, that will help get more of the coaches to check it out."

Registration is free to all coaches who are members of the SDHSCA.

Carpenter said there's plenty of resources out there for coaches but it's hard to beat the hands-on learning.

"You can find almost anything online but there's nothing that can really beat picking an expert's brain and getting an up-close look at how they operate," he said.