After retiring from professional tennis, several players take different routes in life. Several of them get into the non-profit world and former WTA Top 20 player Peanut Louie Harper is one of those, as the co-founder of a children's charity, Harper For Kids with her husband.
Peanut Louie Harper on her children's charity Harper for Kids
The former World No. 19 spoke to the WTA Tour about her children's charity, whose aim is to help parents and teachers with character development tools for children in elementary and middle schools based on the philosophy of famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
“I had only played tennis my whole life. So just being able to learn something from ground zero, from scratch, and being able to educate myself to bring all of this to the kids and inspire them, was so rewarding. [My husband] Tim and I dove into it and learned along the way.
It was like a huge learning curve, but I’m really happy to be able to learn so much about the nonprofit world. A friend of ours at the tennis club where we belonged had co-authored a book with Coach Wooden and he gave it to us to read.
I didn’t really know who Coach Wooden was or followed college basketball, but when I read it I just fell in love with his philosophy. And being a parent of young kids, was just like, Oh my god, I’m totally going to use this!
As a parent, I’m going to use this maxim: ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ I just always felt like if my parents could write a book, it would have the same values and life lessons”. Harper says she completely identified with the philosophy on success that Wooden had outlined in his book.
"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming. How can you find a better, more positive definition of success? At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask, did you do your best? And that peace of mind, it’s such a luxury to have.
It kind of became just a mission, how to introduce it to as many parents and kids as possible. That was really the drive to start Harper for Kids”. After parents and teachers, Harper hopes to connect even tennis players with this philosophy.
“Even if it just helps one player just deal with the ups and downs of being a pro athlete and the pressures that come with it, that would be just as exciting as how it helps the kid. So hopefully, this continues to grow and grow”.
Peanut Louie Harper reached a career high singles ranking of No. 19 in 1985 and No. 31 in doubles in 1992. She won four singles titles and five doubles titles on the WTA Tour. She was also honored with the WTA Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award in 1985 and 1986.