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Coach talking to young football players

Teaching kids life lessons through sports

Jim Baker, an Alliant Energy gas technician in Janesville, Wisconsin, since 2015, said he coaches youth sports to spend as much time as he can with his own kids. His colleague Matt Tegt, also a gas tech, said it goes much further than that.

“Jim regularly spends extra time making sure the kids are the number one priority, and they understand what is going on so they can build upon a solid foundation as they mature,” Tegt said. “He also takes the extra time outside of the practices and games to make sure the programs are always protecting the kids and moving in a positive direction.”

Baker works with Milton Youth Basketball, Milton Youth Football, United Hoops (basketball) and Milton Wildcats Softball, all of which provide local youth affordable sports training. Baker also serves on the boards of directors of some of them.

“I would like to think I've encouraged all kids I’ve coached to continue playing sports and be active, whether they were a top athlete or not,” Baker said.

Growing up playing sports helped form Baker’s character in a memorable way. “Through sports, I was able to create lifelong friends while learning confidence, leadership, respect, discipline and many more traits that are required for life after sports,” he said. The experience also prepared him for his role as a youth coach.

When he started, he needed to learn how to encourage very young players. “Younger kids need motivation sometimes to try harder, and it’s usually ice cream,” he said. He tells them during practice if they win the next game, he’ll treat them, and the kids do not let him forget it.

With tweens, Baker found, the focus shifts to winning. “My coaching peers can be pretty intense about winning,” he said. For Baker though, encouraging kids to come back every year and keep playing takes priority over winning.

“It’s about how they feel more than what they’re accomplishing," he said. “At these ages, kids won’t remember the wins and losses, but they will remember the relationships and fun times. That is what will keep them enjoying sports as they grow up.”

We recognize Jim Baker with a 2024 Values in Practice (VIP) award, an honor that celebrates employees who donate time and energy to the communities we serve.

All 2024 VIPs receive a $500 grant to donate to the nonprofit of their choice. Baker is donating his VIP grant award to Sharon Community School in Sharon, Wisconsin.

We thank Baker and the other VIPs for how they act for tomorrow, do the right thing, make things better and care for others – a few of the values that shape everything we do.

Coach and a football player

"At these ages, kids won’t remember the wins and losses, but they will remember the relationships and fun times."
Jim Baker

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