Truckee High School class of 2015 graduates 139 students (w/ photo gallery) | SierraSun.com

Truckee High School class of 2015 graduates 139 students (w/ photo gallery)

Story & photos by Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Pursue what you love and don't let the word 'no' stop you.

That was a consistent message Truckee High School's 139 graduating seniors heard Saturday morning at a sun-drenched Surprise Stadium before embarking on life after high school.

"Your life will have many turns and twists," said Larry Harper, founder of the Good Tidings Foundation, who served as the commencement guest speaker. "You will have multiple dreams. Surround yourself with great people, stay tuned, stay involved, stay engaged and never let anyone tell you no."

During his speech, he recalled how he traded in his successful business career to pursue what made him happy — baseball. For the next few years he took on various coaching positions at California colleges, making a pittance.

"During this five-year stretch, every month I sent a letter to every major league team asking them for a coaching or scouting job, and every month I received a letter back saying: 'Thanks, but no thanks,' and this is all 60 of those 'thanks, but no thanks' letters," Harper said, showing the crowd the bundle. "Their theme was all the same: We don't hire anyone who was not a former professional baseball player."

But it only took one "yes" for him to secure his dream of a career in professional baseball. That yes came from the San Francisco Giants, with him first serving as the team's scout in Southern California before advancing to director of scouting.

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"The team (in 1989) went to the World Series for the first time in 27 years, and I received a Championship ring, and the best part (is) I actually became the boss for numerous people who said I couldn't work for them," Harper said.

After 13 years as an MLB scout, the World Series was canceled in 1994 because "the owners and players forgot about their dreams and chose material things," he said.

That year, Harper wrote the book "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" to benefit youth charities, which fostered a new career path — one revolving around children's welfare.

In 1995 he founded the Good Tidings Foundation, a children's charity that supports arts, education, athletics and dreams of youth from communities of need. Since, the foundation has helped build 140 athletic facilities, including Truckee High's new baseball field.

"So class of 2015, tomorrow when you wake up and you really don't know what to do, well, that's OK," Harper said.

With most graduating students only 18 years old, choosing a career path seems "practically impossible," said this year's valedictorian, Gabrielle Rinne.

"The years ahead are a blank slate, and you have the ability to make whatever you want out of them," she said. "Each and everyone of us has unique talents and different aspirations that are all equally valid, but no matter where you go, or what you do there are going be people that judge or dislike what you're doing. Be bold anyway.

"… You're going to be most fulfilled by doing what you love, so don't let what others think get in the way."