Thank you, Clay Center Community High School Class of 2018 for the opportunity to be the guest speaker at your graduation ceremony. Here is the transcript of the speech if you or your people are interested. Hopefully, you can look back on it years from now and ask your classmates, “Do you remember that fool who gave our graduation speech? I wonder what he’s doing nowadays.”
I dedicate this speech to all the athletes I’ve had the honor of coaching, especially the ones who’ve struggled to find their place in the world.
Graduation Speech 2018
Otto Unruh Stadium
Congratulations, Class of 2018! Thank you for this honor to speak today.
Congratulations to the parents and families! Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Today is special. This all around us is special.
This is a special place. It‘s a community where people have supported you through your games, performances, academics, and employment opportunities.
This place is part of who you are. It is part of what you will become.
No matter how far you travel or where your dreams take you, you will take a piece of Clay County with you.
And wherever you go after leaving these seats as graduates, Clay County will always be here for you.
Be the best you that you can be.
Toy Story 2 illustrates a great example of staying true to who you are. Woody has been taken to Big Al’s and is waiting to be sold to a collector. He looks at the faded name of “ANDY” written on the bottom of his boot.
The name that represents belonging to and being a part of.
The name that gives Woody purpose.
What happens to Woody when the Cleaner shows up and wipes those four letters off his boot?
He loses himself. He gives up trying to get back to Andy and the others. Gives up and floats away from all that is important to him. He’s tempted by the TV star life after discovering Jessie, Bullseye, and Stinky Pete.
When the name disappears, so does the very core of who he is.
In the end, it takes a monumental effort by Buzz and all Woody’s friends to bring him back to himself.
What name is written on your foot?
Who or what do you choose to belong to?
What name gives you purpose?
Is it a name that’s written in permanent ink or in pencil?
Is it a name that provides solid footing or is it one that causes you to slip and slide away from who you really are?
Find out who you are and stand behind it.
Let your faith be your compass.
Let your conscience be your map.
Never forget the name you’ve written on your foot.
My challenge to you is something you probably won’t find on any of your graduation cards.
Go out and fail.
Dream big, take calculated risks and fail.
Regroup, and get better. Then try again & again & again until you succeed.
I wish you a lifetime of successes forged in the fire of failures.
I want you to dream big and go make it happen.
As we dive headfirst into the digital age, I challenge you to do great things. And great things take effort.
Do not fail by lack of effort or by not daring to dream.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your power.
I want you to discover new ways of farming and ranching.
I want you to discover new ways to teach kids.
I want you to bring new products to our everyday lives and new ways of creating art and stories.
I want you to teach us old folks how to use technology without allowing technology to use us.
We need you and we need your talents.
Every Graduation Needs a Mascot
My proposal for your graduation mascot is Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.
Do you remember what Tigger is known for?
As you turn the tassels today, take a lesson from Tigger and be bouncy!
You were bounced on someone’s knee as a baby.
You bounced off almost everything when you learned to walk and run.
You bounced around on the playground during recess.
You’ve been bounced on your rear end by schoolwork, sports, jobs, relationships, and personal trials.
But, you kept bouncing back and here you sit. Graduates.
Your bouncing days are not over. They’re just beginning.
Life will knock you for a loop over and over again.
Every time you get knocked down, bounce back up.
Sometimes our biggest victories in life are simply getting back up after a fall.
Just like Tigger.
A Graduate Game Plan
Hard work is the magic.
It’s a simple truth.
Everything worth having is worth working for.
Family, career, hobbies—even that truck you can’t peel your eyes away from on the dealership lot—are all worth working for.
Put your signature on your every action.
Show up each and every day ready to do the work.
Attack life with purpose, pride, passion, and persistence.
Hard work is the magic.
Congratulations, Class of 2018!
Take advantage of “today” every day.
Live life to its fullest.
It’s the only one you’re given.
While bouncing along the Hundred Acre Wood, Tigger’s been known to sing,
“The wonderful thing about tiggers is tiggers are wonderful things.”
“The wonderful thing about Clay Center Tigers is Clay Center Tigers are wonderful things.”
Remember who you are.
Remember where you come from.
Remember where you’re going.
The most wonderful thing about YOU is that YOU are a wonderful thing.
Thank you and good luck!
Bonus! Every good story has a good story. This is what happened (well mostly what happened) the night I told my family at dinner about the invitation to be CCCHS’ graduation speaker.
Me: Mr. Young called today and said the senior class invited me to be their graduation speaker.
(Long dramatic pause while family rolls on the floor in fits of laughter.)
Kid 1: What would you wear?
Kid 2: You know you can’t yell, right?
Me: I don’t yell. I get excited.
(Long dramatic pause #2 while family rolls on the floor in fits of laughter.)
Kid 3: You can’t cuss, either.
Me: @#$%! I know that.
Wife: Are you going to do it?
Me: (Long dramatic pause while I roll on the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter.)
Whole Family: You mean to tell us you can look in those seniors’ eyes and tell them “no”.
Me: But there will be SO MANY people there. And it will be hot. And… And… And…
Wife: Well, are you going to do it?
Me: I told Mr. Young I’d think about it.
(Long dramatic pause #3 while family rolls on the floor in fits of laughter.)