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  • Peter Miller

SGG episode #40: Turina Bakken is always looking out for the underdog



Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Turina Bakken is the Provost at Madison College and a long-time competitor, coach, commentator, and leader in a variety of sports contexts. Turina also holds multiple academic degrees, including a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. She’s widely respected for her dynamic leadership – and her story is full of rich lessons for coaches and all leaders who aim to promote the good through sport. In this episode, we discussed:

1. Growing up playing multisple sports in a small Minnesota town – including the creative games she would play with her brother.

2. Picking the least talented kids first on the playground – valuing everybody and the contributions they can make.

3. Her father’s influence and his steadfast support over the years – even to the point of purchasing Badgers gear (quite a commitment from a life-long Gopher fan!).

4. How her creativity as a teacher was influenced by her participation in sports.

5. Lessons learned from her grandma – who was elected mayor at age 75 by a write-in vote.

6. Management by wandering around.

7. Playing for a soccer team in France – taking risks, being a “complete and utter outsider for the first time in my life.”

8. Being “a very intentional observer” who “is always on the lookout for the hidden gem, the underdog.”

9. “Authentically being me has helped me gain respect.”

10. Her grandma’s saying, “do it your own wrong way.”

11. Not taking oneself too seriously, keeping a “lightness” in her work, and remaining approachable.

12. “Take yourself off the stage and put the spotlight on other people.”