Remarkable Women: Former tennis pro, non-profit leader Peanut Louie-Harper

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MILLBRAE, Calif. (KRON) — KRON4 continues our celebration of the Bay Area’s Remarkable Women, with the story of a pro tennis player turned non-profit leader, working to coach kids on how to win in the game of life by changing how we think about success.

At Millbrae’s Meadows Elementary School, Peanut Louie-Harper preaches the values of Harper for Kids, a non-profit she co-founded now in its 17th year of empowering children, stating this simple message:

“It’s really about trying your best,” Louie Harper said. “If you’ve done everything you can, you should be very proud of yourself.”

Louie-Harper says she’s shared this message with tens of thousands of kids over the years at more than a hundred schools in the Bay Area and beyond.

Louie-Harper’s values have been served up from Louie-Harper’s own life story as a former professional tennis player, once ranked among the top in the world.

Some of her first matches were played here in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She grew up the youngest daughter of Chinese Americans.

“My parents luckily did not pressure us in that way, like winning or losing. You know, if you didn’t win the match, that’s okay. Go back out there the next day in practice, which we did. Perfection…Never the end game.”

Louie-Harper flips the narrative by focusing on values like hard work, team spirit and self-control, making sure it’s not about winning or losing.

“There’s so many negative definitions of success out there, Louie-Harper said. “Can you imagine a world where kids are like, ‘success is all about trying your best’? There’ll be less tears, there will be less kids that just, you know, feel that they’re not worth anything.”

“You just want kids to live a happy, healthy life and really give them a chance to pursue what they love,” Harper-Louie added.

The message is already resonating, and reminds us, it’s OK to mess up sometimes.

“It can get you frustrated sometimes, but you just have to not let that get to you and keep trying hard,” Louie-Harper said.

“It’s just about every day,” Louie-Harper said. “Can you be 1 percent better than you were the day before?”

Louie-Harper was also inspired by the teachings of coach John Wooden, considered one of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches of all time.

“It’s all about the peace of mind, the happiness in your heart, that you just try your best,” Louie-Harper.

This former tennis-champion-turned-non-profit-leader sets kids up for a court advantage in the game of life.

“Parents, you know, I would say, gosh, just keep encouraging your kids,” Louie-Harper said. “Ask them, you know, what does success mean to them? That’s what we hope for in all the kids to take away with. This is just to be proud of themselves, no matter the result.”

Fun fact: Louie-Harper’s son Jared is a Bay Area musician who made a national TV appearance on the hit show, “The Voice.” He is set to perform at BottleRock in May. Seems like success runs in the family!

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