By Chase Baker
I’ve recently caught myself focusing on many of the negative aspects of my 13-year football career. So, before I dive into my journey and FATE’s origin story, I first want to say how grateful and appreciative I am to the game of football. It allowed a shy kid from Paradise, California to go further in life than he ever dreamed possible. Football gave me a sense of belonging and the ability to receive a college education. The game has provided opportunity, life-long friendships, mentors, and business partners. I have been able to explore cities across the country and even represent the NFL on an international level. Still, I believe there are major shifts that need to occur in how athletes are viewed and utilized by collegiate, professional and youth organizations. My efforts to bring change and improvement come from a place of love, mindfulness and a desire to expose young athletes to resources that will help them succeed. It is how I can give back to the game of football and athletics as a whole.
Like many entrepreneurial journeys, mine stems from pain. Literal pain. I underwent 11 major surgeries over the course of my athletic career. Alongside the countless other strains, sprains, pulls, and dislocations, my injury report looked like a Webster’s thesaurus by the time doctors told me I should no longer play football. As I moved on from playing and began scouting, coaching and figuring out how to help the next generation of athletes pursue their dreams, my mind always returned to memories of physical therapy.
I was in rehab for a second ACL tear that occurred while trying to return for my senior season. I had torn it the first time a number of months earlier during a rugby tournament in England. Every week I would be strapped into this isokinetic machine, where I would work my way through multiple resistance exercises for each leg. It would print out pages of data and charts that compared strength, explosiveness and endurance. I remember asking how much the machine cost and was shocked when the therapist told me $100,000.
However, with those insights I was able to optimize how I trained and recovered. And when I first stepped onto the blue turf at Boise State, I knew I had put myself in a position to compete for playing time despite the injuries. I didn’t realize how valuable that data was at the time, but looking back I can see the justification for spending $100,000. That data allowed me to continue pursuing my goals.
Pair my appreciation of data for training and recovery purposes with a few other anecdotal stories, like me cheating in the NFL regional combine, and not believing anyone’s stats as a scout, it serves as the foundation for why I am working to bring the FATE combine mat to life. I believe access to accurate human performance data can bring positive change to all areas of athletics. Most importantly, it can serve as an amazing resource for aspiring athletes.
I developed the idea for the combine mat after completing the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. However, the vision didn’t begin to take shape until I partnered with a group of engineers in 2018, shortly after obtaining my masters degree from Southern Methodist University. As someone without a technology background, the process of bringing a tech-intense product to market has been filled with challenges and has tested my patience as well as my psyche. It has been overwhelming at times and felt like I was drinking from a firehose. I will be forever grateful to my co-founder and lead engineer, Aaron Daniel. He has walked me through every step of the process and has a talent for breaking down complex issues into consumable bits of information that even I can understand.
FATE stands for Full Athletic Testing and Evaluation, but it is purposefully tied to the idea of destiny. Whether you want to call it fate, divine intervention, or the law of attraction, there have been people and things that have shown up in my life when I needed them the most and have helped me on my journey. With FATE, our goal is to provide human performance data and its insights to all aspiring athletes so that in ten years, when they are reflecting on their athletic careers, they can point to the value we provided and believe it was “fate that we connected.”
My team and I have bootstrapped this from the beginning and have driven the project to its current position. We have developed the patented force sensor technology used throughout the platform, and have built a functional MVP mat and data collection software. As we roll out pilot programs for gyms, high schools, military training, and physical therapy offices, we are beginning a parallel fundraise. Please reach out if you have any questions, comments or would like to get involved.
Chase Baker grew up in Northern California before signing to play college football in Boise, Idaho at Boise State University. There he received a degree in business administration and earned the opportunity to sign with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Following his 3 year NFL career that ended early due to injury, he transitioned to scouting, coaching and training. In 2017, he returned to college at Southern Methodist University for his M.S. in Sport Management. After getting involved with 1 Million Cups and the Capital Factory in Dallas, Chase discovered his love for the startup community. His passions revolve around athletics, gaming and conscious entrepreneurship. In March he married his wife Madison in Mexico, two weeks before Texas went into lockdown.