Success On Court and in Life

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Success On Court and in Life:

# 1 ranked Men’s and Women’s College Tennis Teams partner with

Harper for Kids and Coach John Wooden’s famous Pyramid of Success
to help students achieve their personal best each day.


For USC’s Head Men’s tennis coach, Peter Smith, and UCLA women’s head tennis coach, Stella Sampras, helping youth in the local community is a #1 priority. To further that goal they recently joined forces with Harper for Kids, an acclaimed children’s nonprofit organization that teaches the principles for achievement from one of America’s greatest coaches, legendary basketball coach John Wooden whose UCLA dynasty won ten national March Madness championships.

Tim and Peanut Harper, co-founders of Harper for Kids, utilize the positive impact top college coaches and their student-athletes have as role models and teachers for young students. Combining forces with coaches such as USC's Peter Smith and UCLA's Stella Sampras (and their players) provides an exciting and effective way to share with children the essential life skills taught by the late Coach Wooden.

The goal of Harper for Kids program is to help schools incorporate Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success into their character education program. Being able to bring in these great role models has provided a unique and special element to Harper for Kids program.

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USC Head Men's Tennis Coach Peter Smith and Tanner Smith

Harper for Kids
recently held an assembly with Coach Smith and his son, Tanner, at Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy #8 in East Los Angeles as well as one with Coach Sampras at Hawthorne School in Beverly Hills.

Both Coach Smith and Coach Sampras shared with students and teachers the value of teaching Coach Wooden’s famous Pyramid of Success and its character-based blocks of personal qualities such as Hard Work, Friendship, Enthusiasm, Alertness and more – fundamentals for a positive and productive life. They also emphasized the importance of being a person of character, making good decisions, and helping others.

Principal Melissa Chew (Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy #8, a middle school for inner-city youth in East Los Angeles) expressed the degree of difficulty in choosing a character education program that she felt would be effective. Harper for Kids helped to make the choice easy. “I reached out to Peanut and Tim Harper for support and they have been instrumental in providing resources and advice on how to develop a positive and engaging character education program for my 6th graders.

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Principal Melissa Chew

The Pyramid of Success is accessible to students and it puts ‘giving 100%’ into terms that a 6th grader can take ownership of and aspire to. I love how we can ask our students to reflect on their progress with certain blocks of the Pyramid and they can identify their own strengths and weaknesses with respect to certain blocks. For example, one of my young ladies states, ‘The block I would really like to work on is confidence because I am shy and it’s hard for me to share and be open’.

We couldn’t believe our luck when Peanut and Tim told us they’d be able to bring USC’s Coach Peter Smith to our school to speak to our students. Again, as a brand new school, this was our first real school assembly and it made our students feel so special and it made the Pyramid so real.

We can’t thank Harper for Kids and Coach Smith enough for this amazing partnership and the much-needed positive attention to character development that it has brought to our school community!”

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(left to right) Peanut Harper, Coach Peter Smith, Alliance College-
Ready Middle Academy #8 students and Tanner Smith

Harper for Kids has had the honor of doing several assemblies with Coach Smith over the years and seeing his positive impact with the students. Tim and Peanut knew instantly what special guest coach they wanted to ask to come and talk to Principal Chew’s students . . . Coach Peter Smith.

Coach Peter Smith: “Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy #8 is an amazing school with respectful, inspired, insightful 6th graders that inspired Tanner and me. These young scholars are a direct reflection of their incredible Principal Melissa Chew and the wonderful teachers at the school. It was a highlight for us to share Coach Wooden’s philosophy as we use his principals in guiding our program.”

Tanner Smith: “Talking to the kids was a great experience for me, I was shocked at how eager they all were to learn. They were enthusiastic and entertained. My dad has always stressed how important it is to give back, and it felt great to be able to do that with him. Those kids no doubt had the hearts of future champions.”

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UCLA women's tennis team giving a demonstration

At Hawthorne School, Coach Sampras and her team shared what their favorite blocks were, followed by an exciting tennis demonstration by the team. Dr. Gary Woods (Superintendent of Schools Beverly Hills Unified School District), Principal Kathy Schaeffer and a couple of their teachers and students also participated in the demonstration.

Coach Stella Sampras: “We had a great time talking to the kids about John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. John Wooden is an inspiration to our athletes at UCLA and it’s great to be able to share our experiences using his pyramid to the children.   

It’s important that our athletes give back and know that they can make a difference in a child’s life.” 

Kaitlin Ray: “My teammates and I loved getting to share Coach Wooden's pyramid with the students because it plays a huge role in our daily lives as UCLA student-athletes and also contributed to our national championship last year. It was just exciting to get to pass on his legacy and hopefully inspire kids to do their very best in whatever they choose to do.” 

Dr. Gary Woods, Superintendent of Schools Beverly Hills Unified School District: “It is always easy to spot those striving for personal excellence! During a recent visit to our schools, both Harper for Kids and the UCLA women’s tennis team entertained our students and shared personal reflections on the importance of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Our students were able to familiarize themselves with many proven keys to success. They were also encouraged to make meaningful commitments to do their personal best at all times! I strongly recommend this program.”

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Principal Kathy Schaeffer (second from left), Dr. Gary Woods (second from right) with
UCLA women's tennis team and Tim & Peanut Harper

Principal Kathy Schaeffer: “Our students love the pyramid. It is a constant visual reminder of their strengths and what areas they are working on. Our teachers reinforce the concept of personal success being the students’ best effort. These factors have had a positive effect on our school community and climate as a whole.

The students were excited to meet and listen to the UCLA tennis team. It made the pyramid “real” by knowing how it has helped these athletes become successful not only on the court, but in life.”

Harper for Kids first college partnership began in 2010 with University of San Francisco Coach Peter Bartlett and Coach Pablo Pires de Almeida and has helped Harper for Kids create additional partnerships with sports teams from USC, Stanford, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Boise, Pepperdine, University of San Diego, Cal State Northridge, College of San Mateo and City College of San Francisco.

For more information about Harper for Kids, please visit

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