Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry Congratulates the 2008 UIL State Champions

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008  •  Austin, Texas  •  Speech

Thank you Dr. Breithaupt (UIL Assistant Director) for that kind introduction and for all the hard work the UIL team does for the children in our state. Dr. Farney [UIL Director], you do a wonderful job maximizing the high school experience for students all across this great state of ours. On the coaching side, I'd also like to thank D.W. Rutledge of the Texas High School Coaches Association, Joe Martin of the Texas High School Coaches Association, and Sam Tipton of the Texas Girls Coaches Association for everything you and your members do to shape young lives.

I meet a lot of people in my day-to-day life as governor, but I gotta say it's great to meet some of the best and brightest in the next generation of Texans. It is an honor to welcome you to the capitol and to celebrate your remarkable achievements. Congratulations to you all.

On a beautiful summer morning in Texas like this, I'm sure you'd much rather be sleeping in, getting ready to head to the local pool or figuring out a way to hone your skills for next season. But it means a lot to have you here, to offer us the chance to honor you and share your stories of success across the state. You represent the remarkable talent that our state produces on a regular basis. You embody the values that have made Texas the greatest state in the nation: you are smart, you work hard, and you don't give up, even in the face of the toughest challenges.

You may have heard some members of my generation who moan and groan about your generation, muttering about the loud music and the wild hair cuts, never missing a chance to remind you how you have it so much easier than their generation did. Trust me, previous generations said the same thing about my generation and we turned out reasonably well. And I think your generation is turning out pretty darn well in your own right. Spending time with people like you gives me even greater hope for our state's future.

You have traveled a long road to claim your championships and, in so doing, have earned our enduring respect. And so, I congratulate all of our UIL champions you for your remarkable achievements. The hours of training and practice you have invested to develop your skill, whether that's making the perfect flip turn in your lane, making the perfect baton handoff in your relay, or knowing just when to spike a debate opponent's argument, you have ignored the voices that told you to stop and pressed on for a prize that few will ever touch. Such experience has molded your character and honed the traits required of every person who would achieve great things.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear you say that you learned as much from the losses in your career as you did from the wins. Competition is life's great teacher, whether you are battling an opposing team on the field, studying for a top grade on an exam, or, someday, leading a corporation in the business world. Regardless of the arena, competition teaches us to work our hardest, to persevere against long odds, to overcome our weaknesses with hard work and to simply do our best. That spirit has made Texas an example to our nation and the world of the value of competition, the innovation it breeds, and the success it achieves.

I am confident that many of you gathered here today will be recognized again in the future as standouts in athletics, high achievers in academics, and leaders in business. In fact, it would not surprise me if, someday, your neighbors see fit to send you back here as a representative, a senator or even governor. I'm not saying that tearing it up on the six-man football field of Paint Creek High School catapulted me into the governor's office, but I learned lessons there about competition, teamwork and perseverance that I have put into use every day since.

Wherever life leads you, I encourage you to remember that a champion is not defined merely by medals or trophies. Instead, a champion is someone who simply does not quit in his or her quest to reach a goal or fulfill a dream. A champion is someone who remembers where they came from and the people who helped them reach their destination. So don't forget to thank your parents who drove you to practice, the coaches who stuck with you ‘til you got it right, the administrators who handled the details, and your fellow students who cheered for you. Remember that a champion is also someone who gives back.

I encourage you to take that work ethic that made you into a champion and apply it to the world around you. Invest in the next class behind you. Reach out to the less fortunate in your school and community. Find ways to simply serve others. That mindset and that investment will take you from UIL champion to a champion in life. I will end by saying that impressive young people like you make me more confident than ever in the bright future of our state. Once again, I congratulate you for your achievements, I admire you for your perseverance, and I wish you God's best in the future as you pursue your dreams in the greatest state I know.

God bless you all and may he continue to bless the great state of Texas.

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